The ship is carrying GM soya from the US to Liverpool, England where the company Cargill will process it before selling it for use in animal feed.
The Greenpeace activists have cited the Biosafety Protocol, agreed in Montreal last month, and one of its clauses that allows individual nations to refuse entry of GM cargo. Reacting to the news that Greenpeace has cited the international agreement, the UK Government’s GM unit told edie: “The Biosafety Protocol is irrelevant to this situation. The UK already has stringent laws to control the import of GM crops.”
“We hope the Government is listening to what customers and we are saying – that customers don’t want GM ingredients in animal feed – but this was never especially aimed at the Government,” Charlie Kronick, head of Greenpeace UK’s GM unit, told edie. “We’re hoping for some action from Cargill. They could send the crop back to America and they could turn their crushing plant in Liverpool GM-free.”
Cargill refused to comment on the possibility that the ship will return to the US, but did assert its right to import GM soya into the UK. “This is a perfectly legal cargo,” a Cargill spokesperson told edie. “We only import and process the cargo that our customers demand.”
Despite Cargill’s avowed support for GM food technology, its spokesperson acknowledged that decisions by some UK supermarkets – including Iceland, Tesco and M&S – to remove GM ingredients from animal feed had been noticed. “There have been announcements by certain retailers and we will react to their needs. There does seem to be a movement toward non-GM in the UK at this moment but that doesn’t mean that’s the case in other countries.”
Meanwhile, the UK Government argues that there is no need to phase out GM ingredients in animal feed. “There are no food safety concerns associated with GM ingredients used in animal feed in the UK and there is no evidence to suggest that GM material is present in meat, milk and eggs from animals fed on feed containing GM ingredients,” states the Government’s GM unit.
Greenpeace believes that despite Cargill’s long-standing and public support for GM foods, there have been changes in its position in recent months. Kronick says that Cargill has become increasingly willing to segregate GM from non-GM crops. “They are an enthusiast for the technology, but they’re seeing Europe reject it. They could find themselves as isolated as Monsanto,” says Kronick.

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