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in Branisovice

Zpravodajstvi CTK informs on June 24 that a group of 25 persons consisting of employees of the Czech office of Greenpeace and invited foreigners from Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Finland and the Netherlands invaded a test area in Branisovice where a study of an effect of Bt corn on insect community was going on. Their goal was to hamper the test by stretching of polythene bags over plants. The test had an official approval and therefore the invaders were led away by the police. Let the reader make his/her own opinion of this event. We shall only list some facts, which are not known to the media or they do not consider them important or they omit them on purpose.
  1. Application for the study approval, which should compare an effect of Bt corn and standard corn on insect community, was properly submitted to the Ministry of the Environment. The test was to be performed on high scientific level by the Institute of Entomology of the Czech Academy of Science.
  2. Following documents were considered during risk assessment of the release of the Bt corn in the environment for the purpose of the study:
      European Commission, Health & Consumer Protection Directorate-General, Scientific Committee on Plants, Brussels, 13 May 2001
      European Commission, Agriculture Directorate-General, Directorate-General Joint Research Centre, Brussels, 17 May 2002
      (Environmental issue report No 28),
      European Science Foundation and European Environment Agency
  3. Based on the analyses in those documents the Czech Commission for the Use of GMO and GMO products concluded that the area of the test and the distance of the nearest corn field that could be used as seeds causes no risk of uncontrollable gene transfer.
  4. Employees of the Czech office of Greenpeace (ing. Piknova) were present at the negotiations as participants of the administrative proceeding. All the relevant documents were at their disposal and they were well informed that the goal of the test was to objectively find an effect of Bt corn on insect community. They submitted their comments, which were answered by experts. It is possible to check in the minutes from the meeting (see that the present employee of the Greenpeace office raised no objections against the explanation and answers to the comments.
  5. Ministry of the Environment issued a positive decision on the field test.
  6. Greenpeace employees as participants of the administrative proceeding could have raised an objection against the conclusion of the Commission. Thus the proceeding would have been reopened and modified corn could not have been sown before the agro-technical deadline. This could have been a legal way to prevent the test. No objections were delivered in the written minutes within the 14-day period provided by law.
  7. "Unknown offender" removed warning boards informing about the experiment in procedure in the night on June 24 from the test area.
  8. On June 24, employees of the Czech Greenpeace office led by their director Jiri Tutter and invited foreigners from Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Finland and the Netherlands invaded without authorisation the test area determined to prevent the test, which should find an objective effect of Bt corn on insect community.
  9. Greenpeace office sent a complaint to the Ministry of the Environment saying that the test area in Branišovice was not properly marked and issued a press release on June 27 33/2002 "We found that the field with genetically modified corn was not properly marked."
  10. On June 24, Greenpeace office issued a press release 31/2002-07-21 "Greenpeace warns: Manipulated corn of Monsanto Co. can spread on fields in vicinity and cause genetic contamination". On July 3, they issued a press release 33/2002 "GM crops endanger ecological farmers", where they say: "Field tests with GM crops performed here by Monsanto put the very existence of ecological farming in danger."
  11. On July 9, "unknown offender" destroyed the test going on in Branišovice. Greenpeace claims they have nothing to do with this eco-terrorism.

Greenpeace employees prepared a proclamation including several false or misleading information for an internet medium

  1. They claim that the action on June 24 was done by volunteers (activists). Nothing is known about the foreigners but the Czechs were proper employees of the Czech office.
  2. In the proclamation for the public they do not mention that the risks of pollen transfer were considered by experts; the test was approved by the Ministry of the Environment in an administrative proceeding; and that Greenpeace was a regular participant of this proceeding and their employees were present at the negotiations.
  3. Threat to bio-diversity from a gene used in Branisovice is only a dogma of the Greenpeace headquarters. It was scientifically proved it had no effect. The risk of crossbreeding is nonsense: corn does not crossbreed here on the European continent.
  4. Statement about killing of Danaus butterfly by Bt corn is purpose fully misleading. At the Cornell University, only larvae died in the laboratory, which were forced to consume pollen of one, not used anymore, variety of Bt corn. Five comprehensive studies of entomologists followed the experiment, which proved nothing similar happens in natural environment. On the opposite, a study of the entomological institute of the University of Iowa showed that thanks to Bt corn the farmers greatly decreased amounts of insecticides against butterflies and that population of Danaus butterfly increases.
  5. As for "concealment of a study" by the European Commission it is difficult to comment. Though the study quoted above (2b) states a self-evident fact that the zero limit of GMO in products is difficult to reach. Just like zero amount of pesticides or heavy metals. In Europe, 0,1% limit is considered technically detectable.
  6. Statement of Mr. Haverkamp "Monsanto wants to make our country its genetic laboratory" is highly arrogant and offensive both for our scientific institutions, and for the Ministry of the Environments and experts who co-operate with it. Besides, the words about "our country" sound quite strange considering the international structure of the group he invited for devastation of the test.
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