Environment and agriculture organisations have launched a new campaign today to prevent the further spread of genetically modified (GM) crops in Europe.
The European Commission is currently considering reviving talks to approve 25 new GM-crops for cultivation in Europe – including crops resistant to the pesticide RoundUp and insecticide-producing varieties of GM maize, soybean and sugarbeet. The groups claim that such a move would drastically change farming in Europe, leading to a big increase in pesticide use, contamination of conventional and organic crops and a further industrialisation of the countryside.
Mute Schimpf, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “This campaign aims to stop further genetically modified crops from being licenced in the European Union. Experience shows that this way of farming leads to an increase in pesticides and the further industrialisation of the countryside. If this happens any more in Europe then our landscapes will be poorer, our nature damaged and our food contaminated.”
The campaign launches with a new film documenting GM-crop cultivation and extensive pesticide use in Latin America, and the negative environmental and human health issues experienced by local communities.
Nina Holland, campaigner at Corporate Europe Observatory said: “Currently, the EU imports soy from large-scale monoculture plantations in South America, causing not only deforestation and displacement of people, but also a public health disaster among rural communities living nearby. In those areas, citizens have taken legal action and have brought soy farmers and agribusiness companies to court.”
The introduction of patented GM-crops has increased the corporate control of the food chain. Moreover, contamination of other fields is unavoidable. In the USA Monsanto has so far sued 410 farmers and 56 farm companies for patent infringements; a situation that could be repeated in Europe if GM-crop cultivation is expanded.
The campaign also claims that the push for GM crops draws attention away from sustainable alternatives, while failing to find real solutions to alleviate hunger or poverty.
Mute Schimpf continued: “GM crops are unnecessary, risky and profit large multinational companies at the expense of small scale and sustainable farming. The public clearly demands greener farming that doesn’t include genetically modified crops or foods. It’s time to plough all our resources into making farming really sustainable and to stop pandering to the biotech industry and their empty promises of reducing hunger or feeding the world.”