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Greenpeace Activists Sabotage GE Wheat Trial in Germany

German GM wheat trials approved but site sabotaged

Reuters Securities News (Eng)
Wednesday, April 09, 2003 21:01

HAMBURG, April 9 (Reuters) - German authorities said on Wednesday they
have approved an application from Swiss agribusiness group Syngenta AG to
start Germany's first trials of genetically-modified (GM) wheat.

But on Tuesday some 25 Greenpeace activists sowed organic wheat seed on
the test site, aimed at ruining trials as it will be impossible to tell the
difference between GMO and conventional wheat, said Greenpeace spokesman
Henning Strodthoff.

A spokesman for Germany's state owned Robert Koch scientific institute,
responsible for approving the safety of GM crop trials in the country, said
on Wednesday approval for trials this year on the 400 metre site had been
given.

The country forbids commercial production of GM crops but permits
research plantings.

Syngenta had applied for permission for trail plantings of wheat
resistant to the fungus fusarium in the eastern state of Thuringia.
About 75 square metres would actually have had GM seeds.

"It does seem that the test area may not be usable," said Peter Hefner,
a spokesman for Syngenta in Germany. "There is a time limit to plantings
because of the wheat's biology."

"The approval process is also extremely complex and we cannot simply
ignore it to react to this changed situation." He added: "We have gone
through the approval process and answered all objections about safety. The
application was approved but trials cannot go forward because an apparent
legal act has occurred."

"This raises questions about how we can undertake scientific
research in Germany. It appears undertaking such research in Germany will be
problematic."

He said Syngenta is studying the legality of the protest and reserves
its right to take legal action.

Greenpeace's Strodthoff said the organisation did not regard its protest
as illegal.

"At the time of the planting this was just normal farmland and no
approval for GM trials had been given," he said.

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