TCS Daily


Greenpeace Health Police

By Dominic Standish - May 17, 2004 12:00 AM

Greenpeace has been increasing its pressure tactics ahead of the European Commission's key meeting on genetically modified (GM) food set for 19 May. At this meeting, the Commission will decide whether to give the go-ahead for an application by a Swiss company to import GM corn. The European Union has had a virtual moratorium in place on GM food since 1998.

The decision could open the EU market to a wide range of GM products. But not if Greenpeace campaigners get their way. Greenpeace would like to prevent the importation of GM food and this week Its activists have set up blockades to impede the delivery of GM products at Italian ports.

On 9 May, four activists from the Greenpeace ship, the Esperanza, boarded the Argentinean vessel, the Keoyang Majesty, at Chioggia, Venice, and "occupied" it until the evening of 13 May. On the morning of 14 May, their focus shifted to disrupting the offloading and transportation of the GM cargo by boarding barges and an elevator used for these purposes. Six activists also placed themselves in canoes between a barge and the Keoyang Majesty.

Another blockade started on 10 May in the Italian port of Ravenna. Seventy Greenpeace activists from various countries blocked warehouses on the docks to prevent GM soybeans from being loaded from the depots for transport around Italy.

This week's European campaigns followed a Greenpeace victory in Latin America on the previous weekend. Another Argentinean ship, Global Wind, left the Brazilian port of Paranagua after Greenpeace activists prevented the ship from being loaded. Greenpeace has designated the Paranagua port GM-free and would like to assign the same status to ports in Europe and elsewhere.

According to Greenpeace, Italy imports about 4.2 million tons of soybeans every year for animal feed and about 3 million tons of that are GM. The port of Ravenna accounts for an estimated 2 million tons of these imports and so is the principle route into Italy.

"Ravenna is the main entry point of GE contamination into Italy," said Greenpeace activist Federica Ferrario during the campaign against genetically engineered (GE) products at Ravenna. "Our aim is to make Ravenna a GE-Free zone and to end all GE soya imports in Italy," declared a Greenpeace website.

But who gave Greenpeace the right to decide on the importation policies of Italy, or any other country? I don't remember Italians electing Federica Ferrario. Just who are Greenpeace activists accountable to? It doesn't seem to matter to them, as they have already decided what is good for us:

"Italian consumers do not want GMOs to contaminate their food supply. We have a right to know and to say no to this GE in our food," Ferrario stated. On what basis does Ferrario know what Italian consumers want? I also don't remember any referendum on the issue. Surely, if GM products are allowed into Italy, then consumers will have the right to choose whether they buy them. Greenpeace activists are denying this right by imposing blockades without a democratic mandate.

To cap it all, apparently the companies producing GE products are lying to us. "This GE soya is not feeding the world as claimed by the GE industries cynical marketing, it is used for feeding pigs, cows and chickens in Europe," explained our expert campaigner Ferrario. Excuse me, Signora Ferrario, but for those of us who eat (dead) pigs, cows and chickens, it is helpful if they are fed before they are slaughtered.

Finally, Greenpeace has also decided that Argentineans who have been very successful in producing GM products are destroying their health and wealth. "For the future health and wealth of Argentina the GM soya monoculture must be stopped," commented Daniela Montalto, a Greenpeace activist from Argentina taking part in the Ravenna campaign. "GE soya covers over 14 million hectares in Argentina. It is green but it is a desert," added Montalto.

So green fields that efficiently produce food are damaging for health and wealth. Do Greenpeace campaigners believe that sandy deserts would be better for us?


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