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[genet-news] GMO-FREE REGIONS & REGULATION: Fifth European Conference of GMO-Free Regions “Food and Democracy” calls for GE crop moratorium



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  GMO MORATORIUM: THE WAY FORWARD FOR EUROPE

SOURCE: 5th European Conference of GMO-Free Regions ?Food and Democracy?

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://db.zs-intern.de/uploads/1240817686-luzern_final_declaration_en.pdf

DATE:   27.04.2009

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GMO MORATORIUM: THE WAY FORWARD FOR EUROPE

GMO Moratorium: The way forward for Europe

The participants of the 5th European Conference of GMO-Free Regions ?Food and Democracy? call for an EU-wide moratorium on the authorization and the commercial planting of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In the wake of six EU member states banning the planting of MON810 and in light of the rapid increase in GMO-free regions in Europe, there has never been a better moment for a moratorium than now.

This moratorium should be used to:

- rethink EU legislation and strengthen regional self-determination;

- redefine risk assessment according to the precautionary principle while considering socio-economic impacts; and

- support GMO-free, diverse agriculture and ensure food sovereignty.

We call upon agro-chemical companies to no longer abuse the problem of world hunger in order to justify the introduction of GMOs. Practical experience belies this misleading propaganda, which we consider to be false and unethical.

The participants of the 5th European Conference of GMO-Free Regions conclude in the closing session of ?Food and Democracy? that:

- GMO-free agriculture and food are in accordance with the will of the majority of citizens in Europe; and

- sustainable food production which eschews the use of genetic engineering is the best strategy for farmers and consumers, both today and tomorrow.

We are grateful to the citizens of Switzerland, who point the way for all of Europe with their democratic decision to instate a moratorium on the cultivation of GMOs.

This final declaration was adopted by the 250 participants from 28 countries.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  GMO FREE REGIONS IN EUROPE ON THE RISE

SOURCE: 5th European Conference of GMO-Free Regions ?Food and Democracy?

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://www.gmo-free-regions.org/fileadmin/_temp_/PR_24_04_09_EN.doc

DATE:   24.04.2009

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GMO FREE REGIONS IN EUROPE ON THE RISE

 

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5th European Conference of GMO-free Regions

http://www.gmo-free-regions.org/food-democracy-april-2009.html

GMO-FREE REGIONS BY COUNTRY

http://www.gmo-free-regions.org/gmo-free-regions.html

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GMO- free regions are on the rise as 22 EU member states and 6 non-EU countries are now home to publically declared GMO-free areas. The organizers of the 5th European Conference of GMO-free Regions, starting today in Lucern, Switzerland, announced an increase to 196 GMO-free European regions  compared to 167 in 2007. Sub-regional and local government increases in the GMO-free areas were also reported on the Network?s website with GMO-free provinces, prefectures and departments rising from 53 to 93 and GMO-free local governments adding 289 to their numbers swelling from 4.278 to 4.567. Membership in the Network of GMO free regional governments also increased from 42 to 49 in 8 countries. GMO free regions at all these different levels are defined as elected political entities which have adopted a decision to keep their territory free of cultivation of genetically modified plants, irrespective of the legal authority they have over this issue. In addition, 30.370 individual farme
 rs and landowners are now committed to keeping their fields GMO-free compared to 27.100 in 2007.

In areas where no maize is grown commercially, the number of GMO-free regions remains small: for example, just one in Sweden and Norway and few in Finland. According to the GMO industry, GM maize (MON810, the only GM crop presently available for cultivation within the EU) was grown on approximately 107,700 hectares in Spain, Czech Republic, Portugal, Germany, Romania, Poland and Slovakia (2007: 110.000). This represents less than 0,1 percent of the total area of maize grown in Europe and is expected to further decline in 2009. 75 percent of GMOs were grown in Spain. Resistance is, however, growing. Between April 2007 and April 2009, the number GMO-free zones established in Spain was raised from 5 to 94.

At present, there is no legal European framework for establishing GMO-free regions. However, the European Union?s concept to centrally approve cultivation of GMOs throughout its territory has been a failure. Austria, Hungary, France, Greece and most recently Luxembourg and Germany enacted national bans under the safeguard clause (Article 23) of the European GMO Directive 2001/18. The clause allows provisional restriction or prohibition of the use of a specific GMO if new information indicates that the GMO constitutes a risk to human health or the environment. Attempts of the EU Commission to force the waiving of national bans were boldly rejected by two-thirds majority votes of all Member States.

In addition, Article 26a of Directive 2001/18 provides that Member States may take appropriate measures to avoid the unintended presence of GMOs in other products, including restrictions on cultivation as well as stringent liability rules. Such so called co-existence legislation, sometimes also under the authority of regional governments proved to be effective to prevent GMO cultivation in some Member States. In the Walloon region of Belgium, for instance, the government passed a decree in 2008 which allows for the definition of GMO-free zones by farmers, establishes the most restrictive coexistence rules in Europe and also enforces a ?polluter pays? principle which holds GMO farmers financially responsible for any damages caused by contamination of non-GM crops. A similar deterrent to planting GMOs has been proposed in the Welsh Assembly where farmers and seed suppliers would be held accountable in any instances of contamination.

Many GMO-free regions in Europe are also founded on the basis of voluntary agreements between farmers and other landowners. They contractually agree not to use GM seed, ensure that precautions are taken against contamination and hold each other accountable. In Germany 188 farm based GMO-free zones now cover more than 1 Mio hectares. In addition, the majority of Catholic diocese and Protestant churches (one of the biggest landholders in the country) have forbidden tenants from growing genetically-modified crops.

Over the next two days, representatives of European GMO-free regions will meet in Lucerne, Switzerland during the 5th annual Conference of GMO-Free Regions. Under the motto ?Food and Democracy?, the conference will explore and emphasize the people?s right to self-determination in the foods they eat as well as the agricultural products growing in their region. Daniel Amman of the Swiss Working Group on GMOs, primary organizer of this year?s conference, noted that ?the battle for authorizations within the EU for the autonomy of member states and the creation of GMO-free zones is in full swing. In acknowledgment of these coming challenges, Food and Democracy will look at how member states and regions can more fully engage in the participatory process and initiate legislation.? Switzerland enjoyed a much publicized success in 2005 when voters approved a five year moratorium on the commercial planting of genetically modified crops, which the Swiss government recently proposed to e
 xtend.

A high resolution map and full list of GMO Free Regions in Europe is available at

www.gmo-free-regions.org



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:  SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT REITERATES STAND AGAINST RISKY GM FOOD

SOURCE: Edinburgh Guide, UK

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.edinburghguide.com/story/government/3284

DATE:   26.04.2009

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SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT REITERATES STAND AGAINST RISKY GM FOOD

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham has re-affirmed the Scottish Government?s stand against Genetically Modified food in an address to the fifth international conference on GM-free regions in Europe.

?We know very little, if anything, about the long-term effects of growing GM crops. To take risks with our natural environment is wholly indefensible and irresponsible,? said the new Environment Minister, speaking at the conference on Friday.

While GM has generated vast wealth globally for those growing the patented crops, many in the farming industry have questioned the wisdom of playing with nature.

?When you consider our natural environment is worth around £17 million per year to the Scottish economy, we simply cannot afford to take risks with untested technologies,? said Cunningham

Cunningham said consumers everywhere were opposed to GM food, in supermarkets and fields.

?We are ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with other nations who are opposed to GM and fight for what our people want.?

GM Free

According to the Soil Association much of the maize and the soya feed used by dairy and pig farmers is GM, although some supermarkets like Marks and Spencers have taken steps to ensure the non-GM providence of the food they sell.

In Edinburgh, smaller food retailers such as Real Foods, Hendersons, and those found at the Edinburgh Farmers market carry organic food which is GM-free.



                                  PART 4

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TITLE:  GENETIC MODIFICATION (GM)

SOURCE: The Scottish Government, UK

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://www.scotland.gov.uk:80/News/Releases/2009/04/24150325

DATE:   24.04.2009

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GENETIC MODIFICATION (GM)

 

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please watch the video at

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2009/04/24150325/Q/Video/548

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Consumers don?t want genetically modified (GM) foods in their supermarkets and shops which is why Scotland must remain GM-free, Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said today.

In a video address to the fifth international conference on GM-free regions in Europe, the new Environment Minister strongly re-affirmed the Scottish Government?s anti-GM stance.

Ms Cunningham told delegates that countries had a duty to adopt the democratic principle as well as the precautionary and preventative principles when it came to GM.

The Minister said:

?We know very little, if anything, about the long-term effects of growing GM crops. To take risks with our natural environment is wholly indefensible and irresponsible.

?When you consider our natural environment is worth around £17 million per year to the Scottish economy, we simply cannot afford to take risks with untested technologies.

?Consumers in Scotland, the UK, Europe and across the world are opposed to GM. It is up to their Governments to listen to them and take action to keep GM at bay.

?We are ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with other nations who are opposed to GM and fight for what our people want.?

This is the fifth international conference of GM free regions in Europe. It is being held in Lucerne, Switzerland on April 24 and 25 and will focus on the issue of food and democracy.

The conference provides a forum for a series wide ranging discussions on the latest developments of interest to GMO-free regions such as GMO regulation in Europe, strategies for the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops and options for ensuring supply of GM-free products.

Recent public attitude surveys in Europe and America (including Harris and Gallup polls) found the majority were either apprehensive or opposed to GM.


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