ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

3 February 2002


PRESS RELEASE: Greenpeace South East Asia

Greenpeace blocks shipment of genetically contaminated grain from US demanding an end to dumping of GE products in Asia

Batangas, February 3rd, 2002 - Greenpeace today blocked the unloading of a 17000 tonnes US shipment of genetically  engineered (GE) soya destined to the Philippine market to  prevent further genetic contamination of the Asian food supply.  The vessel was delivering its load to the largest soya processing  plant in the Philippines, where recent tests show widespread  GE contamination in a variety of food items, including baby food  (1).
Greenpeace activists occupied the unloading equipment of General Milling Corporation and unfurled a banner that read  "USA Stop Dumping GMOs on Asia" on the hull of the cargo ship Qui Gon Jinn. The shipment is part of over two million  tonnes of US soy annually destined for South East Asia where the US GE industry is consistently exploiting the fact that most countries lack regulation on GE food and have no system in  place to monitor or test for its safety.

The Philippines is the largest ASEAN importer of genetically  engineered grain importing over 1.1 million metric tonnes of  soya and 235,000 metric tonnes of corn from the United States  and Argentina where a large part of the harvest is also  genetically engineered.  Despite government promises to consumers it still has no regulation in place to control imports or  require labelling of GE foods. (2-3)

"Asia should not be a dumping ground for genetically contaminated products," said Beau Baconguis, Genetic  Engineering Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia in the  Philippines. "We should not be forced to feed our children with  food the rest of the world is increasingly rejecting."

Increased rejection of GE crops in Europe has led to huge  losses in US maize and soya exports. Many European countries  are now importing non-GE grain from Brazil, which has a ban  on the planting of GE crops. Even the US consumers'  scepticism of GE foods is growing, according to recent polls. The first American mainstream grocery chain, Trader Joe's, announced in November it will give up selling any gene-altered  food following the lead of companies such as Gerber babyfood.  (4)

The Asian market too has recently become a headache to the US GE industry as the main regional economic powers such as  Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand are preparing or  enforcing GE regulations and labelling of GE food. China, the  largest importer of US soya in the world, has already published  regulations that will impose tight control over GE grain imports and introduce mandatory labelling of GE food prompting  warnings from the US trade representatives. A neighbouring  ASEAN country Thailand has a draft labelling legislation in  place and has banned the commercialisation of GE crops in the  country.

"The U.S. GE industry is desperate. They are trying to exploit  the remains of unsuspecting Asian markets, following closure of  European and Australasian markets as well as growing  scepticism back home," said Jim Thomas, Greenpeace Genetic  Engineering Campaigner from the USA. "Truth is, however,  that GE food has started to receive the same cold reception  from Asian consumers and regulators. It seems that the battle against GE food is shifting from the North to South, as Asia is increasingly choosing the European way to regulate and label  GE products rather than the irresponsible approach of the US."

Greenpeace urged the Philippine Government to ban the import  of GE products into the country and fast track the enactment of  a labelling legislation. It called on General Milling  Corporation to stop using GE crops in their food and to source  from the plentiful GE free supplies available.

For more information contact: Beau Baconguis, Genetic  Engineering Campaigner, Greenpeace South East Asia in the  Philippines, Mob: + 63 917-8151431; Athena Ronquillo- Ballesteros, Campaigns Manager, Greenpeace Southeast Asia  Mob: +63-917-8131562; Jim Thomas, Genetic Engineering Campaigner the USA, Mob: +63916 3457985; Greenpeace  International Press Office, Teresa Merilainen, Tel:  +31205236637.

Photos available from Greenpeace International Picture  Desk in Sydney, Kate Davison in Sydney, mob: +61 418  204869; Video available from Greenpeace International,  Lorna Johnston, Mob: +31653504721.

(1) Genetic tests conducted by Greenpeace showed contamination of several products, including Isomil babyfood,  Nesvita cereal drink, Doritos chips and Knorr cream of corn  soup. A test which indicated very high levels of contamination in Gerber baby food products led to a promise to remove GE ingredients by that company. For more information see  Greenpeace South East Asia True Food Guide on

(2) Details of Soy trade from US to ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations, from  USDA Foreign Agriculture Service BICO database  -

(3) According to USDA Food and Agriculture service and CIARA (Cámara de la Industria Aceitera de la República  Argentina) 1,145,389 metric tonnes of soy are exported to  Philippines from the USA and Argentina. In the USA, 26% of  maize and 68% of soya is genetically engineered, and the  failure to segregate GE supplies from conventional ones has led  to extensive genetic contamination. Almost all the Argentinean  soya harvest is similarly contaminated. Evidence of how crops  can be easily contaminated by GE products has become  increasingly apparent; only last year a genetically engineered  variety of maize not approved for human consumption,  StarLink, contaminated over 300 supermarket products, resulting in mass food recalls both in the US and its trading  partners such as Japan and South Korea.

(4) A recent poll done by ABC News showed that 93% of  Americans support labelling of GMO food and 58% would not  eat GE food once labelled. Also recent focus groups  commissioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revealed that "virtually all participants" wanted to know  whether or not they are eating genetically engineered foods.  Trader Joe's announcement, Nov 14th  2001 can be viewed on

ngin bulletin archive