INDIA - Activists Chain Themselves to Bayer Headquarters (30/9/2004)
30 September 2004
Mumbai: Six Greenpeace activists are chained to the Mumbai headquarters of Bayer Crop Science right now, with banners proclaiming 'Bayer poisons our food'. The activists are there to bear witness to and expose the high-risk genetic experiments conducted by the company on popular food crops including cabbage and cauliflower. Bayer is one of the leading agro-chemical companies of the world, holding nearly one-fourth of the market share in the Indian pesticides industry (22%) with 52 products including formulations.
"The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has disclosed that Pro Agro (a wholly owned subsidiary of Bayer) has conducted field trials of cabbage and cauliflower genetically modified with the controversial Cry9C gene," asserted Divya Raghunandan, GE Campaigner, Greenpeace India, "Considering the high risks to human health associated with this particular gene (See footnote 1), Greenpeace is concerned about the implications for consumers, including the farmers that will grow these crops, and we are demanding that the company stop all research using the Cry9C gene and makes all information related to these field trials open to public scrutiny."
"The Cry9C gene protein is notorious for being a suspected human allergen. The United States Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged this risk and refused to certify a version of corn genetically modified with this gene as fit for human consumption. This Cry9C-laced corn, interestingly, was also owned by a subsidiary of Bayer Crop Science, Aventis, and was eventually marketed under the brand name StarLink for animal feed and industrial purposes. However in September
2000, StarLink was found in corn taco shells and other foods and about 300 corn products had to be withdrawn from the market.
"Cry9C also made an appearance on the Indian scenario in March 2003, when a food aid shipment from two US-based aid agencies (CARE and Catholic Relief Services) was suspected of being contaminated with StarLink corn. Responding to the warnings issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research, and an alert sounded by concerned organizations, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) took a stand against the shipment, and demanded that USA and the aid agencies provide certification for each consignment of corn-soya blend that it did NOT contain StarLink. Since none of the agencies were willing to certify this, the entire shipment was rejected outright.
Greenpeace is demanding that Bayer answers critical questions on their genetic field trials, including:
1. Why is Bayer using the same gene implicated in the Starlink to feed people in India?
2. What bio-safety and health safety assessments, if any, have been conducted and what were the results of the same?
3. What did Bayer do with the GM plants, seeds and produce from these field trials?
How can they assure us that these have not already entered the food chain?
For further information, please visit www.greenpeaceindia.org or contact:
Foot note 1: Cry9C is one of a family of crystalline (Cry) endotoxin proteins produced by Bacillusthuringiensis (Bt), a naturally-occurring soil bacterium. The Cry endotoxin disrupts the digestive systems of pests attacking GM crops and kills them. Unlike other Cry proteins, Cry9C is heat-stable and also resistant to degradation in gastric juices. These two properties are generally considered the most important indicators
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