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Greenpeace stops ship bringing GM soya into UK
report from Greenpeace. (25/2/00)

At 7.40am today (25/2/00) Greenpeace successfully intercepted the bulk carrier Iolcos Grace believed to be carrying up to sixty thousand tonnes of genetically modified soya into Britain.

The vessel was boarded by Greenpeace volunteers off the coast of Anglesey in North Wales. Six Greenpeace volunteers are still in position on the vessel, preventing further movement, while the organisation attempts to persuade the owners of the cargo - the US agribusiness giant Cargill - to return the GM soya to the United States.

The action by Greenpeace is part of a campaign to prevent genetically modified crops from being imported into the UK. The GM soya will mostly be used for animal feed, which will end up in meat and dairy products for human consumption.

The recent agreement of the Biosafety Protocol in Montreal last month means that governments can now refuse to accept imports of GM crops on the basis of the 'precautionary principle'. Greenpeace calls for an end to GM imports because of uncertainties over the effects of GM materials on human health and the environment.

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The owners of the cargo, Cargill, operate the only GM soya mill in the UK. The Cargill Liverpool mill is the largest source of GM contamination in the UK.

Major supermarket chains in the UK are already going GM-free and rejecting animal products fed on GM crops. This week Iceland announced that it would be selling only GM-free animal products from September 1st. Other supermarkets like Tesco have also announced their intention remove GM animal feed from their products.

Yesterday Carrefour, the second largest supermarket chain in the world, also announced that it is excluding GM animal feed from all its meat products in response to customer concerns.

Jim Thomas, GM campaigner at Greenpeace, said: "This ship is carrying a cargo that nobody wants and most people would like to see sent home. There's no demand for GM crops and it's pointless bringing in thousands of tonnes of the stuff only to contaminate the food chain. Cargill have already proven that they can get GM-free soya and could easily shift the balance towards a GM-free Britain."

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GREENPEACE CONTACT INFO:

Tel: 0171 865 8255/6 (press office) or 01399 787076 (pager)

A background briefing about this action is available on the Greenpeace website or by fax.

Background notes:

The Iolcos Grace departed New Orleans, USA, earlier this month and was heading for the Cargill GM soya mill in Liverpool docks.

On February 11, 2000 a shipment of 30,000 tonnes of maize to Brazil was turned away as a result of a warning from Greenpeace that some of the grain onboard might include genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The shipment was rejected after a decision of the animal feed producer Perdig„o.

Greenpeace informed the Brazilian authorities, which announced that they will demand certification of all US maize to stop illegal imports of GM maize. Their actions came just two weeks after the adoption of the Biosafety Protocol in Montreal, Canada which agreed a country's right to reject imports of genetically modified organisms.

For background on Greenpeace's campaign against genetically modified foods visit their website at greenpeace.org

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