- A new study published today by Friends of the Earth and
Greenpeace demonstrates that the growing of GM crops in Spain is causing
contamination of organic crops, producing low yields and its benefits are
grossly overstated. The report is also highly critical of the Spanish
for failing to properly control or monitor the situation. 
- Spain is the only country in the European Union where
GM crops are grown at a commercial scale: since 1998, an estimated 25,000
hectares are planted each year with a genetically modified corn variety
(called Bt176) sold by the Swiss biotech company Syngenta. The corn has
been engineered to resist the European Corn Borer, a potentially harmful
insect for maize.
- The cultivation of GM corn in Spain is taking place
any official evaluation (although prescribed by Spanish law). However,
there is now information - made available through a few independent
that shows that the GM plantings pose serious economic and environmental
- * A study by IGTA  demonstrates that - over the years
1998 to 2000 - in most cases there were no differences between conventional
and GM crops when attacked by the corn borer. This indicates that the corn
borer survives the toxin produced by the GM plant, which poses a real risk
if resistance develops. This can not only create an economic problem to
farmers, but also an environmental problem, since heavier and more
damaging pesticides will be needed to fight the "armed"
- * The first cases of organic crops contaminated by GMOs
have been discovered in the northern region of Navarra by the Council of
Organic Farming in Navarra (CPAEN, a public organic certifying body).
the organic certificate was withdrawn and farmers suffered losses because
their product could not be labelled organic anymore for marketing
- * Studies have shown that the yields for the GM crop
are substantially lower then comparable conventional varieties. For
one study reported that in 1999 the GM corn yielded 25% less then the top
- * The Spanish Governments own Working Group on Pesticides
reported in 2002 that corn borer incidence in Spain is "low"
and "does not justify the use of these GM varieties" . In
contrast, the biotech industry states that "Spanish farmers have
European Corn Borer for generations". 
- The report by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth also
explains the approval process in the USA and the EU as well as the legal
issues related to GMOs since 1996. It reveals for example that Bt 176
were already withdrawn in 2001 from the list of approved varieties by the
competent authorities in the US, a country known for its support to GM
- The findings of the report are supported by mainstream
Spanish farmers unions.
- Liliane Spendeler from Amigos de la Tierra/Friends of
the Earth Spain, one of the authors of the report, said: "This
shows that GM crops are not the miracle crops that they are often taken
for. On the contrary: the only ones benefiting from these crops are the
biotech companies, while farmers and the environment are suffering from
- Co-author Juan-Felipe Carrasco of Greenpeace Spain said:
"Spain has become a big experimental field, where GM crops have been
cul ivated for the last 5 years without any agronomic advantage compared
to conventional varieties and where no measures have been adopted to
their negative impacts. The Spanish example illustrates what could happen
on all European farmlands if the EU Commission allows contamination
in conventional seeds and if biotech companies are not held liable for
their contamination of conventional and organic fields."
- NOTES TO EDITORS
- 1. The report "The impact of GM corn in Spain"
is available from Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace websites in Spanish
and English: www.tierra.org and www.greenpeace.org/espana_es
- 2. Instituto TÈcnico de GestiÛn Agraria
del Gobierno Navarra, the Official Farm Research Institution in
- 3. Spanish Ministry of Agriculture- Report of the Working
Group on Pests and Diseases in Extensive Crops. April 2002.
- 4. Europabio press release, 27th September 2002.
- Liliane Spendeler, Amigos de la Tierra:
- Tel: (+34) 91 847 92 48
Mobile (+34) 666 507 647
- Juan Felipe Carrasco, Greenpeace:
- Tel: (+34) 91 444 14 46
Mobile (+34) 626 99 8244
- Geert Ritsema, Friends of the Earth Europe
Mobile (+31) 629 005 908
- Eric Gall, Greenpeace European Unit,
- Mobile (+32) 496 16 15 82