Constitutional Court rules Italy's January 2005 Framework Law on Coexistence unconstitutional
April 26, 2006
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service
GAIN Report - IT6017
Approved by: Geoffrey Wiggin, U.S. Embassy Prepared by: Sandro Perini
The Italian Constitutional Court has recently ruled that Italy's January 2005 Framework Law on Coexistence is unconstitutional. This report contains an informal translation of an article on the subject. The ruling is clearly a setback for those that want to ensure that Italian farmers do not use modern biotechnological seeds.
Post has been reporting on Italy’s slow development of coexistence legislation for biotech and conventional crops over the past 18 months. The process has been slow and complicated because the Minister of Agriculture and most of the major farmer organizations are opposed to allowing the cultivation of GMOs in Italy, and because the authority for regulating the planting of GMOs resides with each of Italy's twenty Regions. While the Italian Parliament passed a coexistence law in January 2005, it provided only the framework in which the Regions would develop their implementing regulations. That law further required an appointed technical committee to develop guidance for the Regions before passing the matter to them. This technical committee was supposed to have made its recommendations public, through the Minister of Agriculture, in October 2005 but no report was issued. On Friday, March 17, 2006 the Tavola AgroAlimentari (Agricultural Roundtable), the consultative body for Italian agricultural policy comprised of all the Regions and farmer and consumer organizations, met to discuss and approve the technical committee guidance. At the same time the Constitutional Court of Italy ruled that the January 2005 law was unconstitutional because it intruded into areas of Regional authority.
With national Italian elections less than three weeks away, it is uncertain how this impasse will be resolved. Whatever the result of the election, it is unlikely that Italy will get a Minister of Agriculture interested in ensuring that Italian farmers have access to even the approved fruits of biotechnology. However, there appear to be, in the absence of Italian legal restrictions, any impediments to Italian farmers deciding to plant EU approved varieties.
[see accompanying article at