News 2008

 

KENYA MAIZE SEEDS GE CONTAMINATED

Biotech industry impunity fuels global GE contamination spread



PR-USA.net

09. March 2008



AMSTERDAM, International — Biotech companies are acting with impunity as cases of genetic engineering (1) contamination continue on a global scale, a new report launched today reveals.

GM Contamination Register Report 2007, by Greenpeace International and GeneWatch UK, details 39 new instances of crop contamination in 23 countries over the past year. Most of the contamination involved such staple crops as rice and maize, but also included soy, cotton, canola, papaya and fish. Since 2005, the GM Contamination Register has recorded 216 contamination events in 57 countries since GE crops were first grown commercially on a large scale in 1996.

This year’s annual report on the Register is released on the same day a GE scandal in Kenya is exposed as Kenyan environmental and farmers’ organisations confront the government and United States seed giant Pioneer Hi-Bred with evidence of GE-contaminated maize seed in their country, and Greenpeace activists in the Netherlands protest shipments of illegal GE-rice varieties to Rotterdam.

“The contamination documented in the report is just the tip of the iceberg. Genetic polluters must pay. If a company contaminates our food and our environment, it must pay for the clean-up, compensate farmers, traders and consumers. We need international liability standards under the Biosafety Protocol to hold biotech companies to account (2),” Greenpeace International agriculture campaigner Dr Doreen Stabinsky stressed.

In Kenya, Greenpeace, in cooperation with local organisations, commissioned independent tests of maize seed varieties sold commercially. Pioneer’s seed maize PHB 30V53 was found to contain MON 810, a GE variety which has no approval for planting in Kenya and is banned in several European countries (3).

In the Netherlands, rice shipped from the US to Rotterdam (4) was found to be contaminated with GE varieties not permitted for consumption outside of the US. Greenpeace Netherlands’ genetic engineering campaigner Marietta Harjono says Rotterdam harbour is one of the world’s biggest “GE contamination hotspots”, due to its role as first port of entry for much of the GE contaminated foodstuffs that enter Europe from the US.

“Ongoing GE contamination in the world’s major food crops, particularly in rice and maize, shows genetic engineering companies are failing to keep control of their artificial genes. Without decisive government action, the world’s food and seed supplies will be under threat,” Stabinsky warned.


SHOCKING: Kenya taken for granted by South African government

South Africa: Row Over GM Seed Exports to Kenya

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

THE government has been implicated in an international row over the export of seed maize to Kenya which has been contaminated with a genetically modified variety banned in every African country except SA.

The director of the African Centre for Biosafety, Mariam Mayet, blamed seed-bulking facilities for the "contamination", but said the government should shoulder blame for the scandal .

The seed was exported by the South African branch of US seed giant, Pioneer Hi-Bred.

"The maize seeds are contaminated with a genetically engineered variety - Mon810 - belonging to Monsanto that has not been approved in Kenya," said Mayet. "GM (genetically modified) maize Mon810 contains a novel gene that is considered unsafe and banned in several +-European countries."

The contamination was detected by Greenpeace International, which in co-operation with environmental and farmers' organisations in Kenya, commissioned tests of 19 seed varieties bought in stores in key maize-producing areas across Kenya


SA State 'Can Bear Blame for Seed Row'

Business Day (Johannesburg)

4 March 2008

Sarah Hud Leston

Johannesburg

THE government has been implicated in an international row over the export of seed maize to Kenya which has been contaminated with a genetically modified variety banned in every African country except SA.

The director of the African Centre for Biosafety, Mariam Mayet, blamed seed-bulking facilities for the "contamination", but said the government should shoulder blame for the scandal .

The seed was exported by the South African branch of US seed giant, Pioneer Hi-Bred.

"The maize seeds are contaminated with a genetically engineered variety - Mon810 - belonging to Monsanto that has not been approved in Kenya," said Mayet. "GM (genetically modified) maize Mon810 contains a novel gene that is considered unsafe and banned in several +-European countries."

The contamination was detected by Greenpeace International, which in co-operation with environmental and farmers' organisations in Kenya, commissioned tests of 19 seed varieties bought in stores in key maize-producing areas across Kenya.

The tests, by an independent European laboratory, revealed that Pioneer's seed maize PHB 30V53, sold in the Eldoret region of Kenya, was contaminated with Mon810 maize, a variant that is genetically engineered to be insect-resistant.

Last month, said Mayet, the French government decided to ban the cultivation of Monsanto's maize Mon810 based on several environmental concerns.

Pioneer Hi-Bred spokesman Jeff Johnson denied this yesterday, saying France placed a moratorium on the planting of this seed for one season only. "In fact, Mon810 is fully approved in the European Union (EU), and last year was grown in eight EU countries on 110000ha.

Biotech seed maize allows for higher production and lower input costs, resulting in greater income and competitiveness for growers of all sizes and scales."

Johnson said the possible reason for Mon810 showing up in the Kenyan seed was wind pollination, although the crops were grown many kilometres apart.

Mayet said the Kenyan seeds' "contamination" came on the eve of a United Nations meeting to develop international liability rules for genetically engineered products.

Johnson said Pioneer's testing protocols had "extremely high standards" that "meet or exceed" purity requirements of the major maize-producing countries.

"Even given these extraordinary measures, trace amounts of biotech material (called low-level presence) can occur from time to time . Adventitious presence of biotech products does not compromise food safety," he said. Absolute "100% purity" simply did not exist in genetic make-up or in foreign material content. It was not achieved for any agricultural product anywhere in the food chain, he said.

"We can confirm a proportion of the seed sold in Kenya may contain very small trace amounts of biotech material."

Johnson said 12 regulatory bodies worldwide, including the European Commission, had found hybrids with Mon810, marketed as Yieldgard, as safe as conventional corn hybrids. Many farmers in those countries were seeing significant benefits.

Jan Vanaken, of Greenpeace in the Netherlands, said yesterday Pioneer "may talk as long as they wish about approval in the EU, but it is a fact five EU countries banned Mon810 maize on health and environmental grounds".


First GMO seed scandal in Africa: South Africa contaminates the continent

29. Feb. 2008

Seed maize from South Africa, claiming to be pure, has been found to be contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The South African branch of US seed giant Pioneer Hi-Bred recently exported contaminated maize seeds to unsuspecting Kenyan farmers.

The maize seeds are contaminated with a genetically engineered variety-MON810- belonging to Monsanto that has not been approved in Kenya. GM maize MON 810 contains a novel gene that is considered unsafe and banned in several European countries.

The contamination of Kenyan seeds comes on the eve of a UN meeting that is tasked with developing internationally liability rules for genetically engineered products.

The contamination was detected by Greenpeace International, who, in cooperation with a coalition of several environmental and farmers? organisations in Kenya, commissioned tests of 19 different seed
varieties that were bought in seed stores from key maize producing areas across the country. The tests, conducted by an independent European laboratory, revealed that Pioneer?s seed maize PHB 30V53, sold in the Eldoret region of Kenya, is contaminated with MON 810 maize, a variant that is genetically engineered to be insect resistant.

?We call on all African national regulatory agencies to ban any import of seeds from companies that do not guarantee clean seeds that are free from genetic contamination,? insists Mariam Mayet director of African Centre for Biosafety (ACB),

"Kenya now needs a strong biosafety bill that puts farmers? and consumer rights first, and we need mandatory international rules that ensure that polluters must pay for genetic contamination."

Some blame for this seed contamination scandal must also lie at the door of the South African government who has allowed the export of unapproved maize in the first place, she contends. "Maize is the most important staple crop in Kenya. Farmers and consumers in all countries, rich and poor, have the right to untainted, safe seeds and food."

Contact:

For further information, contact Mariam Mayet of the AFRICAN CENTRE FOR BIOSAFETY on 083 269 4309, Suite 3, 12 Clamart Street, Richmond, 2192 South Africa, or http://www.biosafetyafrica.net

Issued on behalf of the African Centre for Biosafety by Michelle Nel on 011 615 4432 or 083 208 7902



Biotech industry impunity fuels global GE contamination spread

28 February 2008

AMSTERDAM, International — Biotech companies are acting with impunity as cases of genetic engineering (1) contamination continue on a global scale, a new report launched today reveals.

GM Contamination Register Report 2007, by Greenpeace International and GeneWatch UK, details 39 new instances of crop contamination in 23 countries over the past year. Most of the contamination involved such staple crops as rice and maize, but also included soy, cotton, canola, papaya and fish. Since 2005, the GM Contamination Register has recorded 216 contamination events in 57 countries since GE crops were first grown commercially on a large scale in 1996.

This year’s annual report on the Register is released on the same day a GE scandal in Kenya is exposed as Kenyan environmental and farmers’ organisations confront the government and United States seed giant Pioneer Hi-Bred with evidence of GE-contaminated maize seed in their country, and Greenpeace activists in the Netherlands protest shipments of illegal GE-rice varieties to Rotterdam.

“The contamination documented in the report is just the tip of the iceberg. Genetic polluters must pay. If a company contaminates our food and our environment, it must pay for the clean-up, compensate farmers, traders and consumers. We need international liability standards under the Biosafety Protocol to hold biotech companies to account (2),” Greenpeace International agriculture campaigner Dr Doreen Stabinsky stressed.

In Kenya, Greenpeace, in cooperation with local organisations, commissioned independent tests of maize seed varieties sold commercially. Pioneer’s seed maize PHB 30V53 was found to contain MON 810, a GE variety which has no approval for planting in Kenya and is banned in several European countries (3).

In the Netherlands, rice shipped from the US to Rotterdam (4) was found to be contaminated with GE varieties not permitted for consumption outside of the US. Greenpeace Netherlands’ genetic engineering campaigner Marietta Harjono says Rotterdam harbour is one of the world’s biggest “GE contamination hotspots”, due to its role as first port of entry for much of the GE contaminated foodstuffs that enter Europe from the US.

“Ongoing GE contamination in the world’s major food crops, particularly in rice and maize, shows genetic engineering companies are failing to keep control of their artificial genes. Without decisive government action, the world’s food and seed supplies will be under threat,” Stabinsky warned.

Notes to Editor

1) Genetic engineering (GE) is also known as genetic modification (GM) or genetically modified organisms (GMO).

2) From 12-19 March, in Cartagena, Colombia, governments will continue to negotiate international rules on liability for damages caused by genetically engineered organisms. These negotiations take place under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Some developed countries such as the United States, Japan and New Zealand are opposing a global agreement on GE liability. The continuing threats to developing country agriculture posed by GE contamination, as evidenced by these latest contamination scandals, demonstrate the need for legally binding, global rules that ensure that polluters pay if anything goes wrong with GE.

3) Greenpeace, in cooperation with several environmental and farmers’ organisations in Kenya, commissioned tests on 13 different seed varieties bought in seed stores across the country. The tests, conducted by an independent European laboratory, revealed Pioneer’s seed maize PHB 30V53, sold in the Eldoret region of Kenya, is contaminated with MON 810 maize, a genetically engineered variant that is insect resistant. The contaminated seeds were produced by the South African branch of Pioneer. The GE seeds have no approval for planting in Kenya. All other varieties from both local and international seed companies were not contaminated.

In February 2008, the French government decided to ban the cultivation of Monsanto’s maize MON 810 due to environmental concerns. These include the impossibility to prevent the spread of GE maize, and the possibility of toxic effects on non-target organisms, such as earthworms. France, Austria, Greece, Hungary and Poland have banned the commercial growing of GE maize MON 810 on the basis of environmental and health concerns.

4) Dutch authorities found illegal rice varieties in two shipments. Bayer’s rice variety LLRICE62 was found in a batch of long grain parboiled brown rice shipped by Riceland Foods and Bayer LLRICE601 was found in a batch of long grain milled rice from shipper Riviana Foods. One of the shipments has since been returned to the US, the other remains at the port.

 

 

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