In Italy, transgenic soy uncovered in planned GE-free zone

RAVENNA, Italy, May 11, 2004 (ENS): Greenpeace activists Monday found thousands of metric tons of genetically engineered (GE) soya in warehouses in the Italian port of Ravenna. Recent samples taken from one of the warehouses have proven to be GE positive. Activists are now preventing any GE soya from leaving the facility and are taking further samples.

Early Monday 70 international Greenpeace activists - aiming to make Ravenna a GE-Free zone and to end all GE soya imports in Italy - entered the warehouse of 'Docks Cereali' company, looking for soy beans to test for genetic modification.

Greenpeacer Paola Lipari said, "We wanted to find either soya beans or soya meal to analyze to find out what was GE. We formed two teams. The first went towards the warehouse of Docks Cereali company and the second toward Eurodocks."

"We found huge mountains of soya meal stocked into the warehouse. Finally we found soya beans and took samples from it carefully sealing them in plastic bags. We reached the exit and most of it was taken by the police, but still, some remained safe and we were able to carry it outside. In the meanwhile the second sample team also got samples."

Some activists cordoned off the area around the warehouses by locking themselves together and others displayed banners declaring "Europe says no to GMOs" and "No to GE Food."

Italy currently imports 4.2 million metric tons of soya annually for food and for animal feed. The port of Ravenna accounts for an estimated 2 million tonnes of these imports and so is the main entry point for genetically engineered soya into Italy.

"Ravenna is the main entry point of GE contamination into Italy," said Greenpeace Italian campaigner Federica Ferrario.

Greenpeace and others fear that genetically engineered crops and foods could trigger allergies and other health problems. They worry that genetically engineered plants could cross-pollinate plants without genetically modified genes, making it very difficult to grow purely traditional or organic produce.

"GE soya is being grown to feed the vast profits of a few large farmers and a few global agri-business companies such as Bunge, Cargill and Dreyfus. These companies plus others control the seeds, the trucks, the shipping and the processing of this GE soya," said Ferrario.

"They also control the import market and could within one year supply non-GE for every import to Ravenna and for all of Italy if they so choose," Ferrario said.

Monday's action follows another GE foods action Sunday in Chioggia, Italy. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza intercepted the Panama registered bulk carrier, "Keoyang Majesty" carrying 40,000 thousand metric tons of genetically engineered soya from Argentina.

They demanded an end to "the massive contamination of the Italian food supply" from these GE imports. Some of Greenpeace activists are still on the boat.

European resistance to genetically engineered crops was partly responsible for Monsanto's decision Monday to drop plans to market genetically modified wheat, a decision Greenpeace declared victory over.

"This is a victory for the environment, farmers and consumers," said Pat Venditti, Greenpeace GE campaigner in Canada. "Strong rejection of GE wheat from virtually every corner of the globe once again showed the resistance to GE foods."

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2004. All Rights Reserved.

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