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Greenpeace blocks Polish ship with genetically modified soy

Greenpeace blocks Polish ship with genetically modified soy

   Activists from the environmental group Greenpeace swarmed a cargo ship outside the Polish port of Gdynia last week to prevent it from unloading 25,000 tons of genetically modified soy bean meal from Argentina, according to the Polish News Agency and the group’s Web site.

   Greenpeace protesters surrounded the Croatian-flagged merchant ship “Hope” with inflatable boats and several of them chained themselves to the anchor, preventing it from reaching the harbor. The activists hung a banner from the ship that said, “Poland does not want GMO.”

   Greenpeace said the action is a protest against farming with genetically engineered plants, which the group says is causing massive environmental problems such as deforestation, a large increase in spraying of toxic herbicides and soil infertility.

   Most of the soy meal imported into Poland is used as animal feed.

   “It is absurd that Polish pigs are eating away the environment at the other end the planet. This must stop, and we demand that the meat industry in Poland stop this import immediately,” said Geert Ritsema, Greenpeace International genetic engineering campaign organizer.

   Greenpeace said pigs and poultry from Poland are widely exported throughout Europe, but because of European Union labeling rules, consumers are unaware that the animals are raised on genetically modified feed.

   “Seventy-six percent of Polish consumers do not want to eat genetically engineered food, and 14 out of the 16 Polish regions have declared themselves GE-free. But the will of this overwhelming majority is undermined by foreign corporations who use unsustainable practices and who are taking over the Polish food and feed market,” said Maciej Muskat, a Greenpeace leader for the Central European region.

   A big culprit in Greenpeace’s eyes is U.S.-based Smithfield Foods Inc., which became Poland's largest meat and poultry processor after it took over the Polish company Animex in 1999.