Slow Food

The Importance of a GMO-Free World: Conference at Cheese 2007

Italy - 22 Sep 07

The conference The chain of products of animal origin: the guarantees and availability of GM free food was held this morning at the Casa di Risparmio di Bra Auditorium as part of Cheese 2007, the sixth biannual Slow Food event dedicated to milk in all its forms. The meeting was introduced by Mario Capanna, president of the Genetic Rights Foundation, who said he was happy to be in the company of some of the most important supporters of the ItalyEurope-GMO Free coalition. This coalition currently has 28 member organizations with a combined total of 10 million members. The collection of signatures from people against genetically modified organisms, taking place also during Cheese, is an example of the kind of participative democracy which Italy badly needs, said Capanna. Pascale Loget, Vice-President of the Brittany Regional Authority in France, invited all the attendees to the conference of the Committee of the Regions and the network of 42 GMO-free European regions, which will be held in Brussels on December 5-6 this year. He underlined how uneven the struggle against the multinationals is, given the huge financial resources they have at their disposition to influence scientists and the media. “Since 1998 we have been asking our suppliers for guarantees that they are not using genetically modified raw materials,” said the President of the Coop Italia supermarket chain, Vincenzo Tassinari. “We are the first large-scale distribution network to have a good 265 products branded with a GM-free certification.” The development of Italian agriculture must be focussed on genuinity,” he continued. “Consumers gain nothing from the introduction of these new technologies and they are greatly worried. Their right to a knowledgeable choice is being threatened.” Concluding the conference, Roberto Burdese, President of Slow Food Italy, noted the devastating environmental impact arising from the cultivation of GMO crops. In Brazil, for example, 70,000 square kilometers of the Amazon rainforest have been destroyed to be replaced by fields of transgenic soy. The glyphosphate used as a herbicide is polluting the rivers and, as a result, the ocean, and killing the marine life. Hundreds of farmers have already suffered the ill effects of eating soya contaminated by glyphosphate. One solution is to construct new alliances between the farmers of the affected countries, whose voice in society and politics is being taken away by the connivances between governments and multinationals, said Burdese. But first it is important to build an entirely Italian production chain for vegetable proteins. The debate was moderated by Cinzia Scaffidi, Director of the Slow Food Study Center.