GREENPEACE RETURNS TRANSGENIC MAIZE TO NOVARTIS

Basel, Switzerland 14 September 1998 --- Greenpeace today returned to
Novartis about 4.5 tonnes of transgenic maize that was taken last Friday by activists from fields in
Germany and France to highlight the risks of transgenic crops. As the concern of the
health and environmental risks of Novartis maize grows among European goverments,
Greenpeace is demanding that Novartis recalls its Bt-maize immediately.

Under a banner ”Novartis maize-back to sender!” about 25 activists from
Germany, France and Switzerland dumped appromitely two tonnes of maize plants in
front of the toxic waste incineratior of the Novartis international headquaters in Basel
early Monday morning. ”This is a defective product in any respect: it is dangerous to
human health, it poses environmental risks and threathens the future organic farmering,”
Greenpeace spokesperson Isabelle Meister said. “Consumers don’t want it and the
majority of the member states of European Union never agreed to approve it.”

Several corn mills in Europe have already stated that after this years
harvest they can no longer guarantee maize free from genetically engineered material because
there is no segregation of transgenic crops in Europe. The small harvest of 15 000
hectares of Novartis maize could contaminate the 4.4 million hectare maize yield. The
maize has been grown for the first time in Europe this year in France, Spain and Germany.

Only last week the European Economic and Social Committee (ESC) recommended
that no transgenic crops containing antibiotic resistance should be allowed to
enter the environment nor the markets. The recommendation is a part of ESC report for
the EU council of ministers on how the EU Directive 90/220/EEC on the deliberate
releases of transgenic organisms needs to be amended. Novartis maize contains genes
providing resistance against an antibiotic Ampicillin and tolerance against the
herbicide glufosinate.

The Novartis maize also contains a synthetic gene derived from the soil
bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which makes the plant toxic to the European
corn borer, a major pest in some regions. However it also makes the plant toxic to
beneficial organisms such as the green lacewing and to springtail, a small soil insect. Such
effects have not been observed with the use of natural Bt-sprays, which have been used as
organic pesticides for decades.

There is general agreement within the scientific community that Novartis
Bt-maize will quickly lead to corn borers that are resistant to the toxin, an effect that
has already been observed with many chemical pesticides. Once the transgenic maize has
caused such resistance it will also render Bt-sprays useless.

“Novartis maize has become a symbol for reckless genetic pollution of the
environment and disregard for precaution in the use of antibiotic resistance,” said
Isabelle Meister while dumping the transgenic maize in front of Novartis’ incineration
facility. “It should be burned here and never be planted again!”

More information:
Bruno Heinzer, Greenpeace Switzerland, + 41-79- 400 88 31
Isabelle Meister, Greenpeace International, + 41-79-418 44 55
Mika Railo, Greenpeace International Press Desk, + 31-20-5249 548
-------------------------
Greenpeace International
Genetic Engineering Campaign
Chausseestr. 131 - 10115 Berlin - Germany
phone: +49.30.308899.14
fax: +49.30.308899.30
e-mail: barbara.kuepper@greenpeace.de


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