Another GE Rice from Bayer Contaminates EU Food Supplies

PRESS RELEASE
Greenpeace International, 10/19/06
PRESS RELEASE By Greenpeace International, 10/19/06

Another GE rice from Bayer contaminates EU food supplies Greenpeace calls for EU strategy to prevent food and feed contamination with GMOs

BRUSSELS News that French authorities have detected another variety of illegal genetically engineered (GE) rice contained in US imports to the EU ­ the third illegal GE rice scandal in Europe in two months ­ should prompt urgent action on behalf of regulatory authorities, Greenpeace said today.

Tests in France found US rice containing a GMO called Liberty Link 62 (LL62), which is not approved in Europe (1). This comes on top of test results from several EU countries since August showing that US rice on sale in Europe is contaminated with another unauthorised GE rice variety, LL601. For the second time, the source of the contamination is Bayer Cropscience. Greenpeace believes that Bayer should be held accountable for its negligence, as it is clearly incapable of controlling contamination of rice with its genetically engineered varieties. In the interests of the global rice supply, Bayer should withdraw from all research, field trials and applications for GE rice globally.

The European Commission on Thursday announced that it would seek member state approval for compulsory tests on all US long-grain rice imports, to prove the absence of LL rice varieties. The Commission should be congratulated for not giving in to US demands to weaken import testing standards.

The Commission's proposal will be examined on Monday by a committee of EU food safety experts. On the same day, EU environment ministers may address the question of how to avoid contamination of the food chain with illegal GMOs.

Greenpeace is urging ministers to develop a strategy to prevent further contamination by GE products: any country which grows GMOs for commercial or experimental use should provide the EU and member states with a full list of these crops, and reliable testing methods for each of them. GE crop-growing countries should have to provide a certificate to accompany imports to the EU proving that they are not contaminated with crops that have not been approved in Europe. In the absence of reliable certification and testing systems, the EU should prohibit imports of products which may have been contaminated.

Greenpeace also expressed concern that the EU has still not agreed on emergency measures regarding the import of illegal Bt63 rice from China, identified by testing on behalf of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth six weeks ago, and confirmed by official tests in Germany, France and Austria. While the EU imposed emergency measures in response to news of the US rice contamination within five days of the notification, no such steps have been taken on Bt63, despite its potential health risks (2).

NOTES TO EDITOR

(1) LL62 rice is legal in the United States (since 2000) and Canada, but is not authorised anywhere else in the world. LL601 is not legal anywhere. Neither is Bt63, detected in Chinese rice products on sale in Europe. (2) For further information on the Chinese GE rice contamination, see

CONTACT Martina Holbach, Greenpeace GMO campaigner, +32 (0)2 274 1906 Katharine Mill, Greenpeace European Unit media officer, +32 (0)2 274 1903

 

IRC Americas Program Special Report:
Report on Bi-National Farmers' Meeting

October 21, 2006

By Laura Carlsen

Americas Program, International Relations Center (IRC)
americas.irc-online.org



Many people don't think of diversity as a food and
agriculture issue. But Jerry Pennick placed it dead
center when he stated at a bi-national farmers'
conference: "Food sovereignty can only be achieved
through diverse agricultural systems."

Pennick is a leader of the Federation of Southern
Cooperatives, an organization of smallholder African-
American farmers in the southern United States.
Alongside farmers from fifty organizations throughout
the United States and Mexico, the diversity he was
talking about was both obvious and not so obvious.

The Bi-National Family Farmer and Farmworker Congress
held September 26-29 in Mexico City, included
Zapotecans, Nahautls, mestizos, Afro-Americans, Mixes
and European descendents from the U.S. breadbasket. It
brought together men and women farmers, researchers,
and farmworkers; Mexicans and U.S. citizens; farmers
who work hundreds of acres and farmers who scrap out a
living on tiny hillside plots.

While they represent diversity, they share a common
cause. The Mexican and the U.S. farmers united because
their way of living is threatened. Both groups are
being pushed off the land by low prices, and the
control over production and marketing exercised by
large agribusiness corporations.

A Dispute over Who Will Feed the World

In spite of the tremendous economic and political odds
against them, these farmers do not consider themselves
an endangered species. Their position is that the
global food chain is what's endangered, if their needs
and proposals aren't taken into account.

Participants described the battle as a dispute over who
will feed the world. They are confident that they not
only have a right to farm and be farmers, but that
their survival is crucial for the world's food supply.
The diversity of the varieties they maintain, their
knowledge of local ecosystems, and the quality of the
food they produce are contributions to society that
should be valued.

Family farmers left to their own devices often make
good decisions - good for the environment, good for the
land, good for the consumer, and good for the farmer.
But under the current system they usually don't have
choices. Ben Burkett knows how to grow cotton and grew
it for years on his small farm in Petal, Mississippi.
Today the price of cotton is so far below his
production price, even adding in government subsidy
payments, that he can't make a go of it. Instead he's
patching together a livelihood out of watermelons and
the government payments he receives for reforesting
part of his land that was devastated when Hurricane
Katrina ripped through.

Likewise, choice had very little to do with the
transformation of Mexican small farmers into U.S.
farmworkers. The low prices and hardships in the
countryside forced people out. "Many migrants have to
sell their lands to make the trip to the United
States," says Carlos Marentes of the border farmworkers
organization, "In this way communities are stripped of
their land." The cheap labor of workers without rights,
collective bargaining power, or benefits is an
important and unjust factor in U.S. agriculture's
ability to produce at such low prices and flood markets
in countries whose own farmers become economic
refugees. Mily Trevino, an organizer of women
farmworkers in California, noted that conditions for
women are even worse, yet a growing leadership is
speaking out and building force in the sector. Shared
Battles: NAFTA and the Farm Bill

Farmers in the world's wealthiest and most productive
nation and Mexican campesinos share more experiences
than one might imagine .

For example, the transnational giant Monsanto enjoyed
instant name recognition in English and Spanish.
Mexican farmers explained the importance of their
struggle to save, sow, and protect their native seed.
The contamination of maize by illegal genetically
modified varieties was a new issue for the U.S. farmers
but critical to the continued existence of campesino
agriculture in Mexico. Biotech companies are waging a
major offensive to legalize cultivation of genetically
modified maize in Mexico and seek to substitute criollo
varieties of maize seed with their patent-protected
varieties. In the U.S. they have already won that
battle in some crops - Burkett complains that to grow
cotton, he has been forced to use genetically modified
seed because that's all that is available.

Most importantly, they both find themselves being
squeezed by an international market controlled by large
corporations. Regulation of that market to protect and
support small farmers is a single call. In the final
declaration of this encounter, the farmers demand a
"deep reform" of the 2007 U.S. Farm Bill: " We want an
agricultural law that makes it possible for farmers to
receive a fair price guaranteeing a minimum price above
the costs of production."

It goes on to suggest public policies to support
agriculture oriented not to large corporate farmers but
to family farms and sustainability: "To achieve this
there must be a reduction in overproduction, by means
of supply management programs, conservation programs
and through commodity reserves controlled by family
farmers. We want anti-trust laws - which have been
largely ignored in recent decades - to be enforced, in
order to diminish the dangerous control by agribusiness
of the agricultural markets."

The declaration makes an emphatic call to get free
trade rules, whether the World Trade Organization, the
North American Free Trade Agreement, the Central
American agreement or others, out of agriculture. It
also specifically demands elimination of the
agricultural chapter of NAFTA. Participants warned that
the compete liberalization of corn and beans will force
even more peasant farmers out of farming. Alicia
Serafin Cruza of the Mexican state of Puebla says,
"there is no land, or there's land but bad prices on
the market because everything is so cheap. People are
discouraged, there's malnutrition...this Free Trade
Agreement is crushing us."

When a question was raised about the viability of
renegotiating NAFTA, Marentes reminded the meeting that
the battle against NAFTA has lasted over a decade. "We
started to fight NAFTA before the signing and this
struggle is not over yet," he affirmed. Quoting Cesar
Chavez, he noted: "There are no lost battles, just
battles that have been abandoned."

=======

US-Mexico Bi-National Family Farmer and Farmworker
Congress Final Declaration

Mexico City, September 28, 2006

We the undersigned participants in the Binational
Congress of Campesinos, Indigenous Peoples, Family
Farmers and Migrant Farm Workers declare our unity in
defending our rights to continue working on the land.

We affirm that the principle of food sovereignty is the
basis for an agricultural system that is healthy,
sustainable and just. Food sovereignty is the right of
the peoples and nations to define their own
agricultural and trade policies, in which small family
producers, campesinos and indigenous peoples play a
fundamental role. We demand laws and domestic
agricultural policies that do not impact on domestic
markets of neighboring countries.

We demand a fair trade of agricultural products that
respect the viability of neighboring national markets.
That is why we oppose the free trade agreements that
facilitate and legalize the invasion of products at
prices below the cost of production and that prioritize
transnational export and agribusiness corporations. In
particular, we oppose the policies and agreements
contained in the WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA-DR and other
bilateral free-trade agreements. Given the profound
crisis in the countryside, we demand that the WTO,
NAFTA and all other trade agreements get out of
agriculture, because they are an attack on peoples'
well-being and democratic processes, and trump
agricultural policies that support rural and family
economies.

In 2008, the completion of the opening of the U.S.,
Canadian and Mexican markets under NAFTA is set occur,
which would mean the deepening of the farm crisis in
all three countries, and as a result, the displacement
of thousands of campesino and indigenous peoples from
their places of origin and, in the U.S., the near
completion of the disappearance of family farms. For
this reason, we demand that the agricultural chapter of
NAFTA be eliminated, as a means of assuring the
survival of producers from both sides of the border.

We think that among the principle causes of the high
levels of migration is the concentration of economic
and political power in the hands of large transnational
corporations and the policies that favor them,
especially in the agricultural sector. The massive
exodus from the Mexican and Central American
countryside is largely a result of the trade and
agricultural policies already mentioned.

We support movement in favor of immigrant rights in the
U.S., including a comprehensive immigration reform,
with paths to legalization and citizenship for
migrants. We demand humane and dignified treatment for
farm workers who come to Mexico from Central America.
They are our neighbors, our sisters and brothers. In
the long term, the only solution to the problem of mass
forced migration is a profound change in the economic
model, in North America and worldwide. We demand the
demilitarization of the border and the destruction of
the walls that have caused so many tragic deaths in the
border region. We have a vision of an economic model
that does not force people to migrate because of
precarious economic conditions.

We believe that a deep reform of the 2007 Farm Bill in
the U.S. is a matter of great urgency. We want an
agricultural law that makes it possible for farmers to
receive a fair price, guaranteeing a minimum price
above the costs of production. To achieve this there
must be a reduction in overproduction, by means of
supply management programs, conservation programs and
through commodity reserves controlled by family
farmers. We want anti-trust laws - which have been
largely ignored in recent decades - to be enforced, in
order to diminish the dangerous control by agribusiness
of the agricultural markets.

We recognize that there is a crisis of land loss among
African Americans, Indigenous, Asian Americans, Latinos
and women and we demand an end to discrimination to
assure full access to land, to credits and to all the
necessary federal agricultural programs.

The economic policies directed to the Mexican
countryside are generating rejection by the population,
as is being manifested in Oaxaca. This Bi-National
Congress of Small and Campesino farmers expresses our
solidarity with the teacher and popular movement headed
by the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca
(APPO), whose principal demand is the departure of the
current governor of the state, Mr. Ulises Ruiz. We will
maintain our vigilance over the situation in Oaxaca and
we emphatically reject any resolution of the conflict
by force.

We support the worldview of the indigenous peoples who
have shown us that the basic elements of life, such as
land, water, air and seeds, must be accessible to
everyone. The concentration of these elements in few
privileged and powerful hands threatens the future of
humanity. In particular, genetically modified seeds are
a threat against biodiversity and the rights of farmers
to conserve varieties of seeds, plants and animals that
have nourished humanity for millennia. We support the
right of indigenous peoples to collective control of
their territories and of biodiversity.

The undersigned,

Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural, Washington DC and
Mexico City; Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land
Assistance Fund, Atlanta, GA; Friends of the Earth USA,
Washington, DC;

National Family Farm Coalition, Washington, DC;
Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns, Washington DC; Via
Campesina North American Region; Border Agricultural
Workers Project, El Paso, TX; Family Farm Defenders ,
Madison, WI; Farmworker Association of Florida, Apopka,
FL; Organización de Líderes Campesinas de California,
Pomona, CA; Agriculture Missions, Inc., New York, NY;
Hispanic Organizations Leadership Alliance, Takoma
Park, MD; National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade
Association, Takoma Park, MD; Texas-Mexico Border
Coalition, Texas; Centro de Desarrollo Integral
Campesino de la Mixteca CEDICAM, Oaxaca; Frente
Democrático Campesino de Chihuahua; Servicios del
Pueblo Mixe-Ser Mixe, Oaxaca; Unión de Organizaciones
de la Sierra Juárez de Oaxaca UNOSJO; Organización de
Agricultores Biológicos de Oaxaca, ORAB

Kie' Lui, Oaxaca; Promotores de Salud, PROSA, Oaxaca;
Unión Nacional de Organizaciones Regionales Autónomos,
UNORCA, México DF; Asociación de Empresas
Comercializadoras del Campo, ANEC, México DF; Grupo
Vicente Guerrero, Tlaxcala; Servicios para una
Educación Alternativa, EDUCA, Oaxaca; Universidad
Autónoma Metropolitana, México DF;

Promotores Campesinos Conservacionistas; Centro de
Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo, CECCAM, México
DF; Organización Regional Nahuatl Independiente, ORNI,
Puebla;

NETECO, Puebla; Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo
Rural, CESDER, Puebla.

[Laura Carlsen is director of the IRC Americas Program
( in Mexico City, where she has
been a writer and political analyst for more than two
decades.]


For More Information

For more information, contact
Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural in Washington DC
202-628-7160

or

, Altagracia Villarreal in Mexico
City, ,

or

the Federation of Southern Cooperatives in Atlanta, GA
404-765-0991 or .