Activists held in ‘Frankenfood’ spuds raid

Police officers in northern Sweden on Tuesday took action against a group of Greenpeace activists who have been occupying a barn while protesting against the planned introduction of genetically modified (GM) potatoes in the area.

Activists held in 'Frankenfood' spuds raid

“It is tragic that the Swedish state uses the police to let the company carry on with the planting of this hazardous GM-potato while other countries ban the crop,” said Patrik Eriksson, head of the Greenpeace campaign, in a statement on Tuesday.

The activists had been chained to the barn near Vojakkala since Thursday last week but on Tuesday morning police used an angle grinder to remove them.

They were then carried, one by one, to a police van and were taken to the police station in Haparanda.

According to local police they will be charged with arbitrary conduct and trespassing.

“We have brought nine of them in. We asked them if they would come willingly but they declined. But they didn’t really resist us so all went well,” police officer Ulf Wallin said to local paper Norrbottenskuriren.

All nine activists were released after the interrogation pending charges.

The activists had been protesting against the planned introduction of the controversial and genetically modified Amflora potato, owned by German company BASF Plant Science, in the area.

According to Greenpeace, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have found that the gene added to Amflora could constitute a threat against the antibiotics used to combat global diseases like tuberculosis.

“Several countries like France, Hungary and Poland have sued the EU commission for approving this potato because of its antibiotic-resistant gene and because of their insufficient risk assessment,“ said Eriksson, who was on the site, to news agency TT.

Potato farmer Mattias Laitamaa who is the owner of the barn was pleased when police managed to move the activists from his property.

“I am glad that I can finally get back to work. I am just hoping that there aren’t going to be any more activists turning up,” he said to the local Norrbottenskuriren daily.

Amflora was approved by the European Commission for use in industrial applications in the European Union market in March 2010. The potato is authorised for glue or papermaking, but not human consumption.

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