'All over Europe regions and local governments have started to declare themselves GMO-free zones. This grassroots pressure will force national governments and the EU to acknowledge the will of the European people who say: "No to GMO".' www.gmofree-europe.org
Over 14 million people across the UK now live in areas where regional or local government has introduced policies rejecting GM food and crops.
And it's not just happening at the political level. In November 2003 the British National Trust voted overwhelmingly at their AGM for the Trust to go GM free and to ban GM crops from being grown on Trust land. The Trust is the largest private owner of agricultural land in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, owning more than 600,000 acres of land, over 80% of which is farmed or depends upon farming for it management.
The Co-op also banned GM crops and foods from its entire business last month. The Co-op said no to growing GM crops on its own land, selling GM food under its own brand and investing bank customers' money in GM technology. The Co-op is Britain's biggest farmer (85,000 acres of land) and sells GBP5bn worth of food annually.
See - www.gmofree-europe.org - for maps, information as well as advice on how to campaign if you're in Europe for your area to go GMO-free.
SOUTH WEST COUNTIES GO GM-FREE
FRIENDS OF THE EARTH Press Release: Thursday 22 April 2004
As campaigners call for new EU rules to allow GM-free areas [in the case that GM commercialisation goes ahead]
Wiltshire County Council has become the latest local authority in Britain to go GM free. All six county councils in the South West region have now passed policies opposing GM crops . The news coincides with a Friends of the Earth campaign, launched today in Brussels, calling for new EU rules to allow local and regional authorities to ban GM crops from their areas. GM-free campaigns are now running in areas and regions in 16 current, and soon-to-be, EU countries . Earlier this week Wiltshire confirmed that it had introduced policies to ensure that all council controlled catering is GM free and that new tenant farm agreements ban the growing of GM crops . Over 14 million people across the UK now live in areas that have introduced policies rejecting GM food and crops.
The European Commission is already under pressure to allow regions and authorities to establish GM-free areas if GM crops are ever allowed to be commercially grown in Europe . In January the Commission admitted that it would "be difficult to reject these attempts at establishing GM-free zones, which are driven by strong public local concern and economic considerations (such as protection of local traditional agriculture)" .
Friends of the Earth Europe has also launched a new website - www.gmofree-europe.org - to highlight the different GM-free initiatives in the various European regions representing tens of millions of people. Actions range from regions introducing local laws to ban cultivation, to public authorities lobbying both Europe and national Governments for legal protection.
Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner Clare Oxborrow said:
"Local and regional authorities across Europe are increasingly taking steps to keep their food, farming and environment free from GM pollution. The EU must take notice, and introduce new European legislation to enable these areas to stay GM-free if Europe ever makes the mistake of allowing GM crops be commercially grown."
Commenting on Wiltshire County Council's anti-GM policy, Jean Saunders, of Wiltshire Friends of the Earth, said;
"Although we didn't know it, for the last eighteen months we have been pushing against an open door. We are delighted that Wiltshire County Council has taken positive action to reflect the concerns of the majority of local people who do not want to eat GM food and do not want GM crops contaminating the countryside."
GM Free South West Campaign Co-ordinator, Keith Hatch, added;
"This is great news for Wiltshire and the South West as a whole. Every county in the region has now taken steps to be GM Free, sending a very strong message to the government that the people of the South West want nothing to do with GM crops and the damage to the local economy and environment that they will undoubtedly cause."
2. There are an increasing number of regions throughout Europe (including non EU countries) that are taking action to go GM-free. In France over one thousand town mayors support GM free zones, and in Italy more than 500 cities have adopted positions against the use of GM in agriculture.
3. In a separate move the South West Regional Assembly is to commission a report through its Regional Futures Group to look at the issue of GM crops. The group, which meet on the 15th April, will also look at the possibility of the region joining with other regions across Europe, including Wales and the Highlands, who wants the right to ban GM crops in their areas.
4. Campaigners are calling for EU rules to allow regions and local areas to blanket ban GM crops in their areas. Under current law (Article 19 of Directive 2001/18/EC), local authorities can apply, on a crop by crop basis, to get GM crops excluded from their geographical areas. To date 28 local authorities have committed to doing this.
5. Commission press release, 28 January 2004, GMOs: Commission takes stock of progress
Clare Oxborrow 020 7566 1716 or 07712 843 211 (m)
Jean Saunders 01793 783040
Keith Hatch 01308 428315
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