Monsanto targeted in Cambridge protest
2.Monsanto joins flight of biotech firms from Europe
NOTE: See also the pictures on Facebook from the protests around Monsanto's annual shareholders' meeting in St. Louis earlier this week: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.239576616117628.54871.182336115175012&type=1
And at the beginning of the week, beekeepers and others invaded a Monsanto plant in TrÃ¨bes in southern France to stop GM maize seed being distributed: http://www.gmwatch.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13639
1.Bio-tech firm the target of protest
Cambridge Evening News, 27 January 2012
[image caption – PROTEST: The scene yesterday]
Activists linked to the group camped outside London's St Paul's Cathedral brought their campaign to Cambridgeshire yesterday.
A handful of protesters from the Occupy London movement staged a "flash protest" outside bio-tech company Monsanto, in Cambourne Business Park.
Protesters changed the lyrics of nursery rhymes to chant outside the company, which produces genetically-modified seeds.
The group said activists in America put an appeal on the internet for an international week of protest against Monsanto, which they said was holding its shareholders’ meeting in Missouri.
Robert Hall, 48, who led the protest, told the News they had asked the firm if they could stage a peaceful protest outside to "make a point", but it had refused.
He said: "This is the UK headquarters of Monsanto so we thought it appropriate to come here.
"Their CEO Hugh Grant is in America, they told us, which is a shame because we wanted him to come out and have a chat with us. It was peaceful and we're not here to cause trouble we just want to make our point."
He added: "I'm a farmer and genetically modified seeds and produce make me so, so angry.
"It's our sacred right to choose the food we eat GM deprives us of this."
Mr Hall, who is from Devon, said the group was not anti-science, but felt genetically-modified produce needed to undergo long-term tests to discover its effects on humans before it could be deemed as safe.
Mark Buckingham, spokesman for Monsanto, which has drawn controversy worldwide for some of its research into GM crops, said: "In fact we haven't done any GM crop trials in the UK for some years, not since 2003/2004."
2.Monsanto joins flight of biotech firms from Europe
Farming News, 25 January 2012
Following announcements made earlier in the year by the French agriculture and environment ministers that they would endeavour to uphold a ban on the company’s genetically modified maize, agri-chemical giant Monsanto has announced it will scrap plans to sell its insect-resistant MON810 maize in the country, the largest grain producer in the EU.
The ministers’ announcement was made following a European Court of Justice ruling that the country’s ban on MON810 was illegal; Monsanto’s response marks the second such decision by a large biotech firm in the space of a week, following the announcement by German chemical behemoth BASF that it would end its biotech activities in Europe in response to consumer hostility.
This week saw campaigners mounting protests against Monsanto in Southwest France. Last week, agriculture minister Bruno LeMaire proclaimed, "I continue to oppose cultivation of Monsanto 810 on French soil."
In a statement released yesterday Monsanto said it, “Considers that favourable conditions for the sale of the MON810 in France in 2012 and beyond are not in place.”
Last week, reacting to BASF’s announcement that it would move its ‘plant science’ department to the United States, Friends of the Earth Europe spokesperson Adrian Bebb said, “This is another nail in the coffin for genetically modified foods in Europe; no one wants to eat them and few farmers want to grow them. This is a good day for consumers and farmers and opens the door for the European Union to shift Europe to greener and more publicly acceptable farming."
Although the decision by large agribusinesses to turn away from the European market for the time being has been lamented as a loss by some, many agriculturalists and environmentalists see it as an opportunity to concentrate research in Europe on agroecology and other low-impact strategies for addressing the interlinked problems of food security, biodiversity loss and climate change which threaten the productivity of global agriculture.
MON810 is currently the only GM crop licensed for cultivation in the EU, following BASF’s decision to withdraw its Amflora potato from the market. Though the maize is banned in a number of other EU states, it is grown relatively widely in Spain and the Czech Republic.
Many critics of GM seeds in Europe fear that, as well as potentially posing risks to the environment through cross-pollination and encouraging the growth of ‘superweeds’, adopting the new crops will lead farmers into bondage to large companies whose business practices concern them.
On 31st January, farmers in the USA will take part in a court case filed to protect growers from ‘genetic trespass’ by Monsanto’s GM seeds. Monsanto has sued farmers in the past for growing its patented seeds without a license; some farmers allege that the company has filed lawsuits against conventional or organic growers who have been the victims of cross-pollination. Through patents or agreements Monsanto controls almost 90 per cent of the five major commodity crops grown in the US including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets.