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Wednesday, 28 March, 2001, 20:22 GMT 21:22 UK
Italian police raid Monsanto GM stockpile
Monsanto headquarters in St Louis, Missouri, USA
Monsanto: "It is not accidental. It is normal"
Police in Italy have raided a warehouse of US biotech company Monsanto and seized 112 tonnes of genetically modified maize, the use of which is illegal in that country.

Italian Health Ministry tests of the maize revealed the presence of the banned genetically engineered Monsanto strain Mon 810, an official said on Wednesday.

"It is not accidental. It is normal that we have very low levels (of genetic material). It is possible," said Jean Michel Duhamel, President of Monsanto's Italian subsidiary.

"We do not sell GM corn or soybeans in Italy," Mr Duhamel said, adding that Monsanto was conforming with current regulations.

Italian police have also been asked to seize some 300 tonnes of soybean seeds suspected of containing GM material which Monsanto has already distributed to retailers, according to Italian Farm Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, a member of the Greens.

Italian GM ban

The use of GM seeds in open fields is forbidden by law in Italy.

Last year Italy banned four varieties of GM maize, saying they were not "substantially equivalent" to conventional maize.

Two of the four banned GM maize varieties were developed by Monsanto -- maize Mon 809 and maize Mon 810.

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See also:

14 Feb 01 | Europe
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18 May 99 | Food under the microscope
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Special report: Food under the microscope
06 Apr 99 | Food under the microscope
The power of genes
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