Organic Consumers Association

Mysterious Deaths of Cows Fed GE Corn in Germany

Cows die mysteriously on farm in Hesse / Germany
Greenpeace Germany
Dec 8, 2003

Greenpeace calls for investigation by Robert-Koch Institute, since cows were
fed on GM maize

Berlin, 8 Dec. - Fifteen Greenpeace activists are today protesting with a
cow's skeleton in front of the Robert-Koch Institute in Berlin.

A banner questions the safety of genetically engineered feed. The protest is
being made because the institute has not yet clarified the puzzling
circumstances, which led to twelve cows dying on a farm in the state of
Hesse, although it is officially the institute's responsibility to do so.

The animals were fed genetically manipulated maize between 1997 and 2001.
The Robert-Koch Institute is responsible for authorising the GM maize and
has so far re-fused to instigate further investigations to clarify what has happened. Greenpeace is calling for a full investigation into the deaths of the cows and an immediate ban on the GM maize concerned, the Syngenta company's "bt176" maize.

"The Robert-Koch Institute manages genetic engineering instead of actively
ensuring safety and the scrutiny of its use," says Henning Strodthoff,
genetic engineering expert at Greenpeace. "The GM maize should never have
been approved. Even the US has now taken it off the market. The incident in
Hesse again shows how lightly the risks of genetic engineering are
considered. In this situation no new licences for GM plants should be
issued," Henning Strodthoff went on, "and certainly not by this institute."

The investigations made so far for the most part rule out the possibility of
common diseases or errors in feeding the animals as the cause of the cows
dying. Syngenta gave the farmer partial compensation in 2002 but refused to recognise the GM maize as being the cause. The farmer called in vain on the authorities and Syngenta to provide more support in making a full investigation into the case, and has now made the details of it available to Greenpeace.

This GM maize is in Europe only grown commercially in Spain. Studies on
bt176 maize have again and again made surprising findings. The newly created
Bt protein which is in fact supposed to protect the maize from particular insects that feed on it, for example, becomes degraded more slowly than had been anticipated. It is found in cows' stomachs, intestines and excrement. Experiments on mice show that it may function similarly with mammals, something which had always been ruled out. The case
is particularly explosive because the EU is discussing a new application for another Syngenta GM maize. This bt11 maize is intended for human consumption, and forms the same poisonous protein.

There are in Germany only a few companies and chain stores like the Metro
group that want to use genetic engineering in the products they sell and
market. Metro also does not rule out the possibility that genetic
engineering is already present in its own brands. In Germany genetic
engineering gets into consumers' food via animal feed.

[more information in German can be found at:]

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