Greenpeace, farmers carve RP's first ever crop circle vs. Bt corn

Feature story - October 3, 2006
The Philippines' first ever crop circle marks the Global Day of Action to protect corn—one of the world’s most important staple foods—against contamination from genetically-engineered (GE) varieties.

Aerial view of a crop circle made by local farmers and Greenpeace volunteers in Isabela province, 300 km northeast of Manila, last 30 September 2006. The crop circle, with a slash over the letter 'M' symbolizes farmer rejection of genetically-modified Bt corn crops from Monsanto corporation.

Aerial view of a crop circle made by local farmers and Greenpeace volunteers in Isabela province, 300 km northeast of Manila, last 30 September 2006. The crop circle, with a slash over the letter 'M' symbolizes farmer rejection of genetically-modified Bt corn crops from Monsanto corporation.

Aerial view of a crop circle made by local farmers and Greenpeace volunteers in Isabela province, 300 km northeast of Manila, last 30 September 2006. The crop circle, with a slash over the letter 'M' symbolizes farmer rejection of genetically-modified Bt corn crops from Monsanto corporation.

Aerial view of a crop circle made by local farmers and Greenpeace volunteers in Isabela province, 300 km northeast of Manila, last 30 September 2006. The crop circle, with a slash over the letter 'M' symbolizes farmer rejection of genetically-modified Bt corn crops from Monsanto corporation

Greenpeace, local farmers and church groups from Isabela province have sent a strong message rejecting genetically-modified (GM) Bt corn crops with the carving of the country's first ever crop circle.

The photos and videos of the crop circle were released today as part of the Global Day of Action to protect corn-one of the world's most important staple foods-against contamination from genetically-engineered (GE) varieties. The release coincides with similar activities held in Spain and Mexico where crop circles were used to mark GMO corn fields as a warning about widespread contamination from planting such genetically-manipulated crops.

The crop circle, 150 feet (46 meters) in diameter, was made last week by Greenpeace activists and local farmers in a Bt corn field in Cauayan City, Isabela Province. The design featured a gigantic letter 'M' crossed out by a slash, in protest against Monsanto's and other seed companies' aggressive peddling of GMO crops which is undermining sustainable farming practices in the country.

"Monsanto is the largest promoter of Bt corn in the Philippines, and has persistently sold the crop even in GMO-free provinces like Oriental Mindoro," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia GE campaigner Danny Ocampo. "Farmers have been lured to planting Bt corn without being informed of the real score. Bt corn endangers sustainable farming, which is safe, ecologically superior and economically beneficial. GMOs are none of the above."

For the crop circle in Spain, Greenpeace activists entered an experimental GE corn farm in Zaragoza to brand the field as a genetic contamination zone. Spain's organic corn farmers have been recently plagued with contamination from GE varieties. In Mexico, a huge crop circle said 'NO,' demanding from the government a rejection of Monsanto's proposal to break a long-standing moratorium against the cultivation of GMO corn. The cultivation of GE corn in Mexico will endanger the country's native varieties.

"Genetic contamination which is happening around the world is a threat to biodiversity, food security, farmers' livelihoods, and consumers' choice," said Greenpeace International GE campaigner Geert Ritsema. "These crop circles are warnings against contamination of corn crops by GE varieties whose long-term effects on soil, animals, plants and human health are still unknown."

GE crops and seeds, when released into the environment, will inevitably lead to genetic contamination of non-GMO agriculture and the food chain.

Greenpeace therefore demands that governments put a moratorium on the release of any transgenic crop or seeds, and is calling on existing authorizations for both commercial and experimental growing of GE crops to be withdrawn.

Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production that is grounded in the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity, and providing all people access to safe and nutritious food. Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity, and poses unacceptable risks to health.

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