Following another case of illegal planting of genetically modified seeds in the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia a few days ago by the pro-GM president of the Federated Farmers association Giorgio Fidenato, Slow Food is joining thousands of protesters today in Rome to demand the government enacts the EU safeguard clause to ban GM crops.
Organized by the Task Force for Italy Free of GMO’s, the protest is being held at 2.30pm outside Rome’s Palazzo Montecitorio, headquarters of the Italian Chamber of Deputies. The safeguard clause that would forbid the development and cultivation of genetically modified plants nation-wide is a clause that EU Members States can invoke to temporarily restrict or prohibit the use and/or sale of a GMO within their territory if they have justifiable reasons.
“Today is a crucial day for Italy’s anti GMO campaigners,” said Roberto Burdese, President of Slow Food Italy. “For years we have asked various governments to apply the safeguard clause and a month ago the Senate approved it unanimously. Now we are waiting on the relevant ministries to follow this important act but we find ourselves in the situation where unauthorized plantings have gone unpunished, as happened in the spring of 2010. These are serious acts of provocation.”
Seven out of ten Italians do not want to consume GMO products and the vast majority of farmers do not desire to sow genetically modified seeds. All of Italy’s regions are in favor of a GMO-Free Italy, however, progress to adopt the safeguard clause (already adopted by eight European countries – France, Germany, Luxembourg, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland) has been stalled.
Burdese called upon Slow Food’s members and supporters to join today’s action, stating: “This is a decisive moment for the preservation of Italy’s biodiversity, agricultural heritage and food sovereignty, and thus our economy and culture. We must act now before the chaos around the issue of GMOs increases due to the lack of legislation and the different interpretations that allows this.”
Carlo Petrini, President of Slow Food, stated that the illegal planting of maize in the region of Friuli could endanger cereal varieties that are typical of northeastern Italy such as Biancoperla corn or Valtellina buckwheat both Slow Food Presidia. “Heritage varieties are going to suffer serious attack because of the inaction of those who should protect them through their institutional duty.”
Meanwhile in related news, the results of tests commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe released last week show that people in 18 countries across Europe have been found to have traces of the weed killer glyphosate in their urine. The findings raise concerns about increasing levels of exposure to glyphosate-based weed killers, commonly used by farmers, public authorities and gardeners across Europe. The use of glyphosate is predicted to rise further if more genetically modified (GM) crops are grown in Europe. Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on the European Union to urgently investigate how glyphosate is finding its way into people’s bodies; to increase the levels of monitoring in the environment and in food and water; and to introduce immediate restrictions on its use.