Josep Pàmies and the Spanish GMOs

29 Jun 2007

His story has become the symbol of the anti-transgenic struggle in Spain and the sentence passed down this last Monday did nothing but give a new boost to his supporters. We are talking about Josep Pàmies, the historic Catalan unionist and leader of the Slow Food convivium of Balaguer, who is committed to the defense of food and agricultural heritage and agricultural biodiversity.

The facts for which he was tried go back to 2003 when about 50 members from the Assemblea Pagesa and the Platform Transgenic Fora went into a field cultivated with the experimental BT176, Sygenta’s transgenic corn which has been prohibited in the United States since 2001 because it generates antibiotic resistance in humans.

Following an international calling by Via Campesina, the activists cut a small symbolic amount of the corn and a group of 13 people, including children, went to the Lleida Municipality to deliver a manifesto to the responsible authorities protesting the uncontrolled GMO experiments in the region. Finding the door to the Municipality closed, the citizens pushed their way in and waited inside the building for the authorities, then left peacefully. A year after this event, Pàmies was charged by an agent of the Spanish Civil Guard with defying authority and causing personal injury.

The accusations were serious, but the movement in defense of Pàmies demonstrated that they were groundless, thanks to a medical examination, showing that the injuries claimed by the agent were from before 2003.

In an appeals trial, Pàmies was acquitted of defying authority and seriously injuring the agent, but he received a sentence on lighter charges for which he must pay 22 thousand euros in damages to the civil guard and for the procedural expenses. The defense will present an appeal to the Provincial Audience of Lleida.

In the meantime, the defense for the unionist has created the platform Somos lo que sembramos (we are what we seem to be) whose objective is to declare Catalonia GMO free, gathering 50 thousand signatures to bring a law from the people into Parliament.

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