Latest update from the European Greenpeace GE campaign.
07 April 1997
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION EXPECTED
This week the European Parliament is expected to vote on the resolution condemning the European Commission for acting unilaterally and ignoring 13/15 member states over Bt Maize. This is likely to have no amendments and to be supported by all parties. Final wording of the resolution will be circulated, and the resolution used in campaign work right around Europe. .. stop press: overwhelming vote against GE Maize!!
EUROPEAN COMMISSION ANNOUNCES NEW LABELLING LAWS
The European Commission last week announced its new laws on labelling for GMOs. These laws are very weak, and would not even cover products currently listed, including the Bt Maize or the RRS soya beans. It would not give the consumer a choice nor would it lead to segregation. Greenpeace has roundly criticised it.
US DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE TO MEET EU OFFICIALS
The US Department of Agriculture has summoned European Union officials to a meeting in Washington 17-18 April to discuss GE, and to put more pressure on the Commission to authorise more GE and to reject Article 16. The US is using the argument that the Commission breaches the WTO and threatens to take the Commission to court over it.
AUSTRIA GOES INTO REFERENDUM
The people of Austria vote this week on whether they want GMOs. The Austrian office's public work has placed GMO's at number one on the media agenda. As one campaigner said "Austria joining NATO? Not an issue -- just GE". GP Austria's press conference last week with UK scientist Mae-Wan Ho on the worst case scenario was extremely well covered. The chances of the referendum going our way are very, very good. All recent polls show that between 75-86% of the Austrian population objects to GE in food and agricultural products. Between 40-55% of the voting public have said they will take part in the referendum. The results will be announced at 8 pm on April 14. Meanwhile the largest dairy company in Austria, Berglandmilch, has announced it will be GE free. It supplies 50% of the Austrian market and has export markets right around Europe.
SWISS TOBLERONE WITHDRAWN/COURT CASE OUTCOME
Swiss food processor Kraft Jakob Suchard, after a spot-check, discovered GE lecithin in their factory. As a result they withdrew all the contaminated stock off the shelves. The stock happened to be their most famous brand, Toblerone chocolate. KJS have gone GE free and have also gone to great lengths to get the contaminated stock back, including all exports. Unfortunately the news spread to Austria, Germany and Sweden where retailers were rejecting all Toblerone. After discussions with the company, Greenpeace put out a press release congratulating KJS for acting in a responsible manner, and putting the focus onto Nestle which is the real culprit when it comes to chocolate.
The Minister of the Interior has stated that the parties taking the government to court over GE are legitimate, and GE soy is now legal. This has caused much anger in Switzerland, down to even the conservative press. The case will now be taken to the Supreme Court, thus holding up the process yet again and also throwing GE soy's legality back into question.
DANISH IMPORTER BEING EVASIVE
The largest importer of soy products into Denmark, US company Central Soya is being extremely evasive about whether it is importing GE-free. Says it tried last year but failed, so it exported all of its GE soy off around Europe But suddenly, after customers want GE-free, it comes up with a whole lot from 1995 that it just happened to have sitting around. All very suspicious. Investigations continuing.
SWEDISH OILMILL AND RETAILER GOES GE FREE AFTER GP CAMPAIGN
As the Greenpeace Sweden push continues, the campaign has won two important victories. The country's only soya mill, Karlshamn, after five days of Greenpeace following all deliveries from the mill to the customers, has now gone GE-free. This was followed swiftly by the largest Swedish Cooperative, KF, also going GE-free.
PRESS CONFERENCE IN BUDAPEST RAISES ISSUE IN CEE
Press conference held last week in Budapest to address the issue of GE in Central and Eastern Europe. Very successful press conference, with Iza Kruscewsca and Georg Stuber (GP Sweden), and the local NGOs where the report "Playing God" was released. This is part of Greenpeace's ongoing outreach work in CEE where we are working with national NGO's and forwarding them information about the issue. The Austrian referendum will have a major impact on the CEE. The environmental movement about GE in the CEE is large and on the internet; a web-site will be set up soon.
DUTCH ACTION A SUCCESS
Greenpeace Netherlands held a successful action against Unilever which received good print press coverage and are now engaged in an ongoing poster campaign against the company. Meetings have been held with Unilever Netherlands.
GERMAN FARMERS POLL SHOWS 60% AGAINST GE/ACTION IN COLOGNE
Greenpeace Germany held a spectacular banner action at Cologne Cathedral which received reasonable press coverage. The German push continues with press conference being held this week to announce a poll of German farmers where 60% of them do not support GE. The supermarket push begins in earnest in Germany this week.
ARGENTINIAN SOY SUPPLIER WANTS GE FREE MARKET
Argentinian soy company Argensoja has contacted Greenpeace in Spain and in Argentina to try to secure a GE-free certificate and supply to Europe. Both offices are working with the company, which could spell the start of Argentinian segregation.
MONSANTO CONTINUES TO EXPAND
Meanwhile Monsanto, in just two weeks, has invested about $1.25 billion in company takeovers: Calgene, the lead company in genetic engineering technology and creators of the Flavr Savr tomato, along with a large seed company, Holden Seeds.
GREENPEACE GREECE CAMPAIGNS ON SOYA
Greenpeace Greece reports that the international GE campaign has received great coverage in Greece, fed by international actions and the distribution of materials by GP Greece. The Toblerone release at Easter got a huge response, with interviews still taking place on 4 April.
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