Science - September 30, 2004

Greenpeace to contest GM apple tree field test

Environmental organisation Greenpeace intends to contest the ministerial decision to turn a blind eye to the field test Plant Research International will carry out with genetically modified apple trees. The Council of State annulled the permit for the test this summer. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) decided afterwards to let the test go ahead until the new permit procedure has been completed.

Greenpeace is against this course of action and plans to submit an official complaint to VROM. If the ministry stays with its decision, the environmental organisation will take the matter to court, says Dr Sandra Schalk, biotechnology coordinator for Greenpeace. ‘We are not doing it to get at PRI. We are against the introduction of genetically manipulated plants and animals in the environment and therefore fight every permit issued for field tests. We have been proved right by the courts, but the government puts itself above the law by turning a blind eye to the test.’

According to Greenpeace the risk analysis for the field test was not carried out properly and the test therefore contravenes the precautionary principle. Schalk is considering other forms of action against the field test, but says that Greenpeace will not damage the young trees as happened last year. ‘We are against violence, but we are also scared of spreading manipulated organisms in the environment. You can’t start dragging the trees around.’ / KV

Re:act