The co-existence experiment was initiated by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) to determine out-crossing rates at different isolation distances between GM and non-GM maize. The tests are being performed with the EU-approved MON810 Bt maize at six locations in the Netherlands in 2006 and 2007.
Relevant parties in the primary sector have agreed on separation distances which, currently, are 25 meters between GM maize fields and fields from regular farmers, and 250 meters between GM and certified non-GM maize. This experiment studies the legitimacy of these distances for the Dutch situation.
On July 22nd, campaigners from two environmental groups, XminY Solidarity Fund and A SEED, protested against the co-existence experiment of the LNV. At an experimental field in Blitterswijck, in the south of the Netherlands, they verified distances between GM and non-GM fields and took soil samples. This information was handed to the local authorities. The campaigners, all dressed in white suits, also provided information about the experiment to local inhabitants, in the hope that villagers, as well as authorities, will act against this experiment and against genetically modified plants in general.
The campaigners are afraid of cross-pollination between GM and organic maize. If this happens, affected farmers cannot sell their organic maize as such since certified organic products are not allowed to contain any GM material. Also, in their opinion, the health, environmental and economic effects of using MON810 maize have not been sufficiently tested.