Greenpeace International - Press release
GE-MAIZE CONTAMINATES CONVENTIONAL CROP
Amsterdam/Hamburg, October 12, 1998 --- Greenpeace today published new
evidence which shows that Novartis genetically engineered (GE) maize has
cross-pollinated an adjecent field of conventional maize in Germany. Farmer’s organisations and
organic associations in several countries joined Greenpeace in condemning genetic
contamination caused by the GE-maize. Greenpeace demands an immediate
recall of the GE-maize by Novartis and calls upon governments to contain any further
spread of the Bt-maize.
“Our members are producing healthy food in an ecologically sound and
sustainable way,” said Georg Janssen, the head of ABL, the family farmers’ organisation
of Germany. “We will not let Novartis ruin the good image of our products.”
Janssen also demanded immediate and unconditional compensation from Novartis for all
neighbours of their GE-fields. Also the Confédération Paysanne of France and the
British Soil Association have expressed their concern over the new results.
Steve Sprinkel, spokesperson of the Texas Organic Growers Association
commented, “When such contamination impacts the organic integrity of the product
produced on a certified organic farm, the grower and the provider of the seed that
created the contamination should be held legally liable.”
The samples analysed were taken next to a field of GE-maize in the region
of Baden-Württemberg, in southern Germany. Greenpeace marked the GE-field with a
giant X in an action a month ago. The neighbouring farmer only learnt during the
Greenpeace action that the maize growing less than a meter away from his field was
Neither Novartis, nor the German authorities have released information
about the fields of transgenic maize nor did they warn neighbouring farmers. However
Novartis, in a special contract with growers of its GE-Maize, did mention that a safety
zone of 200 meters is necessary to avoid crosspollination.
Greenpeace demands that all genetically engineered maize from Novartis is
taken back by the company immediately. Greenpeace also calls upon the German and
Spanish authorities to take immediate measures to prevent the contamination of the
conventional maize harvest by Novartis’ GE-maize. Such a recall was
announced last week by the Ministry of Agriculture in France following a decision of the
French “Court d’Etat”.
Novartis GE-maize is being planted this year in Germany, France and Spain.
Field tests are being conducted also in other European countries.
Note to editors: Maize cobs up to 10 meters away from the GE-field were taken by the
Freiburger Institut für Umweltchemie e.V. and analysed by Gene-Scan for the foreign
DNA of the Novartis’ maize. Analysis indicates that the rate of cross-pollination
was around 5% at the field border, 0,2% at 5 meters and 0,1% at 10 meters
distance. A detailed description of the sampling and analysis is available from
Isabelle Meister, Greenpeace International, +41-1-447 4195
Jan van Aken, Greenpeace Germany: +49-40-306 183 96
Mika Railo, Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31-20-5249 548
tel: +31-(0)20-5249 548
Note the new mobile number: +31-(0)6- 535 04 722
fax: +31-20-5236 212