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6-Regulation: Transboundary GE-free zone planned for Austria, Italy and Slovenia



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TITLE:  GE-free organic zone
SOURCE: Der Standard, Austria, by Elisabeth Steiner
        German text at http://derstandard.at/Textversion/Spezial/
        20021025_1/271.htm
DATE:   Oct 25, 2002

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GE-free organic zone

Carinthia (Austria), Friaul-Julisch-Venice (Italy) and Slovenia plan to 
create a common GE-free zone for their organic agricultural products. A 
transboundary "Bioregion" with a common brand and a "tri-region-market" 
should be built up  by 2006.

Klagenfurt - Carinthia's Councillor for Agriculture Georg Wurmitzer and his 
collegue Danilo Narduzzi from Friaul-Julisch-Venice have signed an 
agreement to create a transboundary organic region - which is expected to 
grow. The Republic of Slovenia should be integrated just after its 
accession to the EU. The responsible Slovenian Minister, Franc But has 
already agreed to participate in the project.

State Law

In 2002, Carinthia is going to ratify a State Law, that bans the planting 
of GE crops and the keeping of GE animals. It is expected that the decision 
will be met with resistance from the EU GE-lobby: "Organic food and GE 
animals and crops are mutually exclusive," Carinthia's Councillor for 
Agriculture Georg Wurmitzer says, his collegue Narduzzi adds: "A GE-free 
zone is a prerequisite for a common organic region."

The merger of the three regions into one organic region is obvious, because 
they all have a similarly-structured agriculture. It is hoped that the 
evasion of the EU-directives on genetically manipulated crops and seeds 
will foster a Europe-wide marketing of the region's agricultural products. 
Wurmitzer: "We regard our project as active lobbying for GE-free food 
production in Europe and we want to play the role of pioneers."

A further aspect of the project aims at the maintainance of typical rural 
specialities of the regions as the Gailtal mountain cheese or the air-dried 
Karst ham. "This is a great opportunity for many family farms to stay on 
the market with such fine niche products." An already existing 
interregional project between Carinthia, Styria and Slovenia could also be 
integrated.

Meanwhile, the basic requirements for the GE-free tri-region organic zone 
have been checked by scientists, agronomists, retailers and the 
agricultural chambers of the regions. Agronomic working groups have been 
formed, which develop quality standards for the main topics "tri-regional 
delicacies", organic agriculture, rural holidays and agronomic education 
and research.

Waiting for the EU accession

The laws and regulations for a transboundary free flow of commodities have 
to be harmonized. "It is necessray that first of all Slovenia acceeds to 
the EU," said Wurmitzer. He is convinced that this will happen in 2004. 
Through the Interreg-III-A-programme of Italy and Austria 8,839,670 million 
Euros are available for Carinthia until 2006. One half is EU money, the 
other half comes from the Federal and State governments and private 
parties. 25,5 million Euros are available for transboundary projects 
between Carinthia and Slovenia.



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