GENET archive


9-Misc: Berlin Manifesto for GMO-free Regions and Biodiversity inEurope

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Berlin Manifesto for GMO-free Regions and Biodiversity in Europe
SOURCE: GENET, Foundation Future Farming, Assembly of European Regions
DATE:   24 Jan 2005

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European Conference, Berlin 22 -23 January 2005:
GMO free regions, biodiversity & rural development

European conference calls for regional governance

Berlin, 24th January 2005 - The Regions of Europe should be given the
final say on the growing of genetically modified crops (GMOs) in their
area, a major European conference today concluded.The conference,
organised during the International Green Week in Berlin, heard that with
over 100 regional and 3500 sub-regional areas now declaring themselves
GMO-free, it was time for European law to be changed to protect such
areas from the cultivation of GM crops. 200 delegates from GMO free
regions and from 30 European countries called on the European
institutions to protect conventional and organic seeds from GMO
contamination, to establish the regions right to stay GMO-free and to
give them a say in the approval process of GMOs, which they find
scientifically questionable and not based on the precautionary principle.

Benedikt Haerlin, conference organiser from GENET and the German-based
Foundation on Future Farming said: "There is fast growing and unstoppable
movement against the cultivation of genetically modified crops all over
Europe. A new alliance of local and regional authorities, nature
protection agencies and farmers unions with environmental and consumer
organizations has emerged to defend their freedom of choice and the self-
determination of the regions."

Representatives of the Tuscan government announced that agricultural
ministers, forming a GMO-free network of regional governments, will meet
in Florence, Italy, on February 4th to take further steps to protect
their citizens and the rights of the Regions within the European Union.

The conference also endorsed a "Berlin Manifesto for GMO-free Regions and
Biodiversity in Europe" (see attached).

For more information, a list of participants and presentations of GMO
free Regions in Europe see the conference web-site:

Benedikt Haerlin, GENET and Foundation on Future Farming Marienstr.19-20,
D-10117 Berlin, Germany
phone +49 (0) 30 27590309
fax +49 (0) 30 27590312

Agnès Ciccarone, Assembly of European Regions
Immeuble Europe 20, place des Halles, F- 67000 Strasbourg, France
phone + 33 (0) 3 88220707
fax + 33 (0) 3 69201318


"Berlin Manifesto for GMO-free Regions and Biodiversity in Europe"

Our Land, our Future, our Europe
The regions of Europe have the right to determine their own ways of
farming, eating, producing and selling food and of protecting their
environment and landscapes, their culture and heritage, their seed, their
rural development, their economic future. This includes the right to
decide about the use of genetically modified plants and animals in their
agriculture and ecosystems.

Our choice
We all share the fundamental human right to chose what we eat. Choices
about the use of reproductive material in a common environment cannot be
made individually, as they affect all people sharing these commons.
Decisions about the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the
shape of our landscape should be made democratically in the regions and
not be imposed by individual farmers, bureaucrats or companies. Decisions
can be wrong and thus should be open for change and reversal.

Our seed
The local diversity of seeds and tradional varieties and their wild
relatives is the foundation for a regions unique composition of taste and
the heritage of a region and is the basis for further innovation and
development of seed. Protecting and encouraging the conservation and
breeding of native and adapted local varieties and the integrity of farm
saved seed is an important duty and right of regional agricultural
policy. As seeds reproduce there can be no thresholds for any unlabelled
GM contamination of non-GM conventional, organic and traditional varieties.

Our agricultural diversity
Agri-Culture is an important part of our regional way of life. Socio-
economic and cultural impacts must be taken into account when introducing
agro-technologies such as GMO. Most European regions have made the
promotion of sustainable and organic farming and regional marketing
priorities for their rural development. Where the right to farm without
GMOs and without undue changes to the local agricultural practice can not
be guaranteed, the introduction of GMOs must be prevented.

Our natural biodiversity
The shape of Europe's environment and landscapes, including its protected
areas, is the result of thousands of years of human cultivation. The
enormous wealth of different landscapes, eco-systems and species must be
protected by those who share this common heritage. Safeguarding our
biodiversity from the spread and introgression of GM varieties is a
conservation goal in itself.

Our safety and precaution
Science can be wrong, but GMOs cannot easily be recalled, if detrimental
effects occur. Hence the regions have the right to follow the
precautionary principle on GMO release.

Our food sovereignty and labels
Most Europeans don't want GM-food. To serve this demand is part of a
region's food sovereignty and an important economic chance. Regional
authorities must be able to protect quality labels, purity standards,
organic production and designations of origin at competitive prices. This
includes access to GMO free animal feed.

Our co-existence
In most cases and for most species there is no realistic chance for
coexistence between GM and non-GM farming, just as there is none between
silence and noise in a room. The highest standards of protection are
required for local cultivars and their wild relatives. The level of
protection and standards of co-existence, including their costs, must be
assessed and decided upon locally and regionally. Fair and sustainable
co-existence must prevail between neighbours and economic partners. It
must not be forced upon their traditional practices and future development.

Our Europe
The diversity of regions shapes the identity of Europe. In a global
economy we do need common European standards on food safety,
transparency, liability, environmental and nature protection and market
access. They should be designed to serve and not to suppress the local
and regional self-determination of the people of Europe. We will defend
these rights and duties and the beauties and joys of our regions
throughout Europe.

Berlin, 23rd January 2005

190 participants of the Berlin Conference on GMO free Regions,
biodiversity and rural development from regions in 28 countries of Europe.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinäckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
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