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Activists target biotech wheat in Manitoba protest

(Friday, June 6, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Reuters, 06/05/03: WINNIPEG, Manitoba - With banners flying, Greenpeace activists on Thursday were cited as launching the latest salvo against Monsanto Co.'s development of genetically modified wheat with a protest at a government research farm in Manitoba.

Greenpeace spokesman Lindsay Keenan was cited as saying in an interview with Reuters that the incident heralded more actions to come, adding, "Resistance is solid."

The story says that five protesters were arrested during the four-hour incident Thursday at the Morden, Manitoba facility in which Greenpeace activists padlocked gates to the government research facility and unfurled signs from the roof.

Jim Bole, director of Agriculture Canada's cereal crop research in Manitoba, was cited as saying the farm is growing one small plot of Monsanto's Roundup Ready wheat, adding, "We do take it very seriously that these trials could cause harm to wheat markets and therefore it is important that they be conducted in accordance with regulatory protocols."

Larry Bohlen, director of health and environmental programs for Friends of the Earth, was quoted as saying, "There is a lot of buzz about biotech wheat now. The debate is heating up."

The story notes that along with Greenpeace, which is pursuing both consumer- and investor-oriented strategies against Monsanto, Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club and others are mounting anti-biotech wheat campaigns this year. The Sierra Club, which has more than 750,000 members, plans to present an "Amber Waves of Grain" protest petition later this month at an international agricultural conference in Sacramento hosted by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman.

The petition has the support of more than 40 different U.S. organizations, said Sierra Club spokesman Jim Diamond.

Friends of the Earth is also planning a biotech wheat protest at the same meeting and is drafting a "biotech wheat critique," according to Bohlen.