2 items -
"You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to note some peculiarities in what has happened... Just as we ask that Monsanto seeds be analysed, the evidence disappears."
Italian minister at war with Monsanto
Deutsche Presse-Agentur April 4, 2001,
Rome: Agriculture Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio has become embroiled in a war of words with Monsanto after defining an arson attack on an Italian seed depot belonging to the U.S. biotech group as "suspicious". The fire that burned two buildings containing seeds and maize about to be distributed to farmers came a week after authorities seized Monsanto seeds allegedly containing banned genetically modified material. The seeds that were not tested had been sent to Monsanto's depot in Lodi, south of Milan, reports said. At dawn Tuesday, unknown arsonists broke into the company premises in Lodi, dodged security guards and set fire to 19 tons of maize and seven tons of soybeans. They also spray-painted the words "Monsanto Assassin: no GMOs" on a wall before leaving the scene. The company estimated losses at 350 million liras (160,000 dollars) and insisted none of the products it sells in Italy are genetically modified. Italian law forbids the use of GM seeds in open fields because of possible health hazards. Pecoraro Scanio, a member of the Green Party that strongly opposes GM foods, said Tuesday's fire was "mysterious."
"You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to note some peculiarities in what has happened," Pecoraro Scanio said.
"Just as we ask that Monsanto seeds be analysed, the evidence disappears."
The minister had previously called for Monsanto's seed import licence be suspended, claiming it had imported GM seeds from the U.S. Jean-Michel Duhamel, the chairman of Monsanto's Italian branch, said he was "bewildered" by the minister's words. "Today's events are the result of a campaign of misinformation launched by some environmental groups and representatives of the political world over the last 10 days," Duhamel said in a statement released shortly after the arson attack. Asked whether the statement referred specifically to Pecoraro Scanio, company spokesman Edoardo Ferri said there could be "no doubt about it".
Letter claims responsibility for Monsanto fire, ANSA says
AP Worldstream April 5, 2001
The Italian news agency ANSA said it received an anonymous letter Thursday claiming responsibility for an arson attack on a Monsanto depot in northern Italy earlier this week. The fire came after the Italian government accused Monsanto of illegally importing genetically modified seeds. The letter, mailed to ANSA's Milan bureau, said ''we poured...gas in different points'' in the warehouse and placed ''incendiary time devices.'' It went on to say that ''multinationals such as Monsanto domineer in an arrogant way, imposing the reason of their absolute power over all forms of life.'' Carabinieri police in Milan were investigating the claim. The Monsanto depot in Lodi, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Milan, was set afire in the early hours Tuesday. Police found two containers of flammable liquid at the scene and the words ''Monsanto Killer: No GMOs,'' or genetically modified organisms, spray-painted on a wall.
Monsanto, a U.S. biotechnology company, came under attack after the agriculture minister accused it of illegally importing genetically modified soybean and corn seeds from the United States. The fire damaged a warehouse with conventional seeds, not the one containing the suspect seeds. The Agriculture Ministry said last week that tests showed the presence of genetically modified material in the seeds.
Monsanto maintains that the seeds were conventional. It also said that even if there were genetically modified organisms present, they would be below the level necessary to require labeling as genetically engineered seeds.