From: Nathalie Rendevski Savaricas, Associated Press
Published February 8, 2007 12:00 AM

Greenpeace Demands Expanded Biotech Food Labels Across the EU

ATHENS, Greece -- Greenpeace activists, hauling a pink fridge full of mock tainted foods, staged a protest outside Greece's Agriculture Ministry to demand an expanded labeling system for genetically modified foods.


The government said it agreed with the demand.


The protest was part of a campaign by the environmental organization, which on Monday handed a petition signed by 1 million Europeans to EU officials to demand compulsory labeling across the European Union of all milk, meat and egg products produced by animals fed genetically modified crops.


"Consumers have no way of knowing that animals producing food ... have eaten genetically modified feed which then enters our food chain," said Greenpeace's Natalie Tsigaridou. "EU legislation must be amended to give consumers the right to choose."


She said Greenpeace would hand the same petition to Greek EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas in Brussels Thursday.


In central Athens Wednesday, activists placed the fridge in front of the Agriculture Ministry, to display milk cartons and fake eggs with warning tags.


Greece, along with Austria and Poland, is among governments in the EU most strongly opposed to genetically modified foods.


Agriculture Ministry official Christos Avgoulas said he supported the Greenpeace initiative.


"We are against the cultivation of any crop that is genetically modified," said Avgoulas, who heads agricultural policy and international relations at the ministry.


A group of farmers from northeastern Greece is currently suing two large biotech companies, demanding euro330,000 (US$428,000) in damages. The farmers claim they were given maize seed that they did not know contained genetically altered material, and were forced to destroy the resulting crop on the orders of Agriculture Ministry inspectors.


The case was brought against Greek subsidiaries of the U.S. Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. and Swiss-based Syngenta AG, which both claim they have settled compensation requirements.


Greece's National Farmers Association agreed to represent the farmers in court. The case was heard in December but the court is still studying the evidence.


Source: Associated Press


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