Greenpeace Blocks Ship
Rough seas on Thursday forced Greenpeace activists to give up a blockade of a ship they say carried 25,000 tonnes of genetically modified (GMO) Argentinian soya to Poland.
In part of a campaign for a wider ban on GMO crops, protestors tied themselves and a rubber dinghy to the ship's anchor chain after it moored, preventing it from docking.
They were forced to call off the protest after five hours as the weather worsened in the Baltic coast port and temperatures plunged to below zero.
"The weather just got too bad and we couldn't risk the lives of the people attached to the anchor," said Polish official Maciej Muskat. "Unless the weather gets any better and we can try again, it seems like the boat will land its cargo."
Production of genetically modified crops is banned in Poland but imports are not, and Greenpeace wants firms, including U.S. hog and pork producer Smithfield, to stop feeding pigs with modified soya at its Polish farms.
"It cannot be the case that Poles do not have an influence on what they eat," Muskat said. "GMO production harms people and destroys the environment and we must oppose it."
Campaigners say gene-altered strains threaten to destroy local ecosystems through cross-pollination, and say they contribute to deforestation and lower soil fertility.
The manufacturers say the products are safe.
The Warsaw office of U.S. firm Cargill, which Greenpeace identified as the importer of the shipment, had no immediate comment.
GMO foods are gaining acceptance around the world, but have run into strong resistance in the European Union where many consumers fear what they view as "Frankenstein" foods.
Greenpeace says the import of shipments of modified soya from Argentina to Poland, the largest food producer among the EU's new member states, has risen six-fold in the last five years.
Warsaw's new government said last week it wanted to make Poland a "GMO-free" zone.
"We are counting on this government, after the prime minister's comments, to be more sympathetic to what we are fighting for," Muskat said. "Certainly it is more so than the last government."