1. SPRING TRIALS OF GM CROPS - GOVERNMENT OUTLINES ARRANGEMENTS
2. 3 articles from the Croatian press:
*AMERICAN GMO TOUR WARNING ABOUT DANGERS/DIPLOMATS THREATS
*DO NOT TRUST THE MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES
*BAN ON THE IMPORT OF GM FOOD
1. SPRING TRIALS OF GM CROPS - GOVERNMENT OUTLINES ARRANGEMENTS
18 January 2002
[Defra press release via http://www.organicts.com/newsnow/Organic.html ]
The Government today outlined the arrangements for the next round of its Farm Scale Evaluations (FSEs) of genetically modified (GM) crops, to take place this spring.
This is the last year of the three-year programme of FSEs, with the final round of trials to be planted this autumn.
The independent Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) which oversees the FSE programme has recommended that there should be up to 32 oilseed rape and up to 25 beet sites this spring across the UK. The total number of sites over the three-year programme (60-75 for each crop) is unchanged.
A list of spring locations will be agreed between the SSC, SCIMAC - the farming and biotechnology industry body - and farmers. DEFRA will then be notified of the six-figure grid references for the selected sites.
The government believes that it is important for people to know as soon as possible what is happening in their neighbourhoods and why. Therefore, DEFRA will announce the sites in the week beginning 28 January, six weeks before the first seeds will be sown. Depending on weather and soil conditions, sowing of the GM oilseed rape and beet is expected from 15 March onwards.
The proposed sites will also be advertised in local newspapers.
The SSC will consider later in February the locations proposed for maize, which is sown slightly later. DEFRA will announce these sites in the week beginning 11 March.
2. News from Croatia
On 17 Jan 2002, at 5:03, Iza Kruszewska wrote:
Sending you 3 articles from the Croatian press translated by Green Action:
1. AMERICAN GMO TOUR IN CROATIA - GM FOOD: FARMERS WARNING ABOUT DANGERS, DIPLOMATS THREATENING WITH WTO, Vjesnik, Monday, 14th January 2002
2. DO NOT TRUST THE MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES, which appeared in Glas
Slavonije (Voice of Slavonia - eastern part of Croatia), Jan 14
3. BAN ON THE IMPORT OF GM FOOD, Novi List, Sunday, 13 Jan
AMERICAN GMO TOUR IN CROATIA
GM FOOD: FARMERS WARNING ABOUT DANGERS, DIPLOMATS THREATENING WITH WTO
Iza Vjesnik, Monday, 14th January 2002
At the time, there are two American delegations in Croatia discussing issues on GMOs. While the American diplomats from the US Embassy in Vienna ask the Croatian legislators to give them green light for the import of GMOs, the American farmers warn about "huge damage" that they inflict
Zagreb, 13th January
At the same time, Croatia received visits by the US diplomats from the US Embassy in Vienna and by the farmers from North America, who came here to discuss GMO related issues. However, while US attaché for agriculture Paul Spencer-MacGregor and adviser for agriculture Robert H. Curtis ask the Croatian legislators to give them green light for the GMOs, the American farmers warn about the "huge damage" they can inflict.
Iza Kruszewska, the international coordinator of the Farmer Tour project says that the American farmers are trying to warn the NGOs in this part of Europe so that the countries in transition do not become "a dumping ground for the GM seed and products" of the multinational companies. She also says that the "Farmer-to-Farmer" will continue its activities in Bulgaria, Poland, Belgium, France and Switzerland.
Who controls "the food supply", controls the whole country Percy Schmeiser, a farmer from Canada, says that there is no non-GMO canola and soybeans in Canada any more. The multinational company Monsanto has genetically modified canola and soybeans seed so farmers can no longer buy conventional seed. They are practically forced to do business with Monsanto. The American farmers conclude that the one who controls "the food supply", controls the whole country.
Schmeiser also says that during only five years that GMOs have been used, the North American farmers have had a number of bad experiences related to GMOs: the contamination of conventional crops by GMOs, the development of the so-called "superweed", which is herbicide resistant and grows as wild plants. In addition to this, there are many cases of multinational companies suing farmers for "stealing" their patented GM seed (instead of buying it from them, along with the corresponding herbicide).
Farmers have suffered enormous damage for losing markets that do not want GM food. Tom Wiley, a farmer from North Dakota, USA, says that the US government has been trying to convince them that they are losing their markets because "dollar is too strong". However, he lost a $10 000 contract for the export of his premium soybeans, when his Japanese buyer found out that his soybeans had been contaminated by the GM soybeans that was growing in the neighbouring fields.
Every cell is poisonous for insects
The American farmers are warning that there is no such thing as co-existence between the GM plants, which carry a dominant gene, and the conventional plants, because the GM plants spread to the detriment of the conventionally grown ones. Consequently, Canadian farmers have already lost the honey market because bees cannot distinguish between GM and conventional plants. They are concerned because the pollen does not spread only by wind, but also by wild animals that can carry it for thousands of kilometres.
Speaking about the unequal race with transnational companies, Gail Wiley said that farmers in the US had formed a coalition in order to put a legal ban on the sowing of GM wheat. She warned that the GM maize seed, called Bt maize seed, would probably be the first plant Monsanto would try to import into Croatia. "Every cell of the mentioned seed is poisonous to Insects", says Gail Wiley and adds that the cows that are fed by Bt maize give less milk. She says that Monsanto claims that this is a "rural legend", a fabrication.
During the seminars held in Bjelovar and Bizovac, the American farmers showed concern about the fact that the US government openly uses the WTO in order to force the countries in transition to allow the import and use of the GM seed, which cannot be sold on the EU market. And it obviously cannot be sold there for a reason. Namely, the studies conducted in Sweden a few years ago show that GM potatoes "cause cancer". In addition to this, it has been proven that the mildest side effects of the consumption of GM food are heavy allergies.
During a briefing in the US Embassy in Zagreb, we were informed about the views of the US government concerning the GMOs and GM food. Their conclusion was that perhaps the Croatian final version of the draft law on the ban of GMOs, which could soon be in the parliamentary procedure, is not scientifically grounded. The Americans also said that the draft law violates the WTO regulations on free trade, especially the provisions of the Agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary measures. There were clear indications that the USA could ask the WTO to protect their rights.
Scientists are divided
It is interesting that the USA support their stand by referring to scientific facts, although scientists themselves are very much divided on the possible effects of GMOs on human health and environment. There is also a great concern in Europe regarding GMOs.
The Minister of Environment and Physical Planning, Bozo Kovacevic, defends the draft law by stressing that so far GM plants have not been grown in Croatia, hence Croatia will not import them nor allow their distribution. These are probably the arguments that will be presented if the USA start using WTO mechanisms against Croatia.
The battle for Croatia, that is, for the new market, has just begun. The market issue is less important here; the Croatian draft law is obviously a "dangerous" precedent, which could be copied by other small countries that still have no regulations on GMO issues. Croatia has the support of the public and of the environmental groups to go through with this law, but is at the same time pressured by the US administration to do the opposite. The battle continues.
NORTH AMERICAN FARMERS SHARED THEIR BAD EXPERIENCES OF LIVING WITH GM FOOD: DO NOT TRUST THE MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES
GLAS SLAVONIJE, Monday, 14th January 2002
BIZOVAC- "Don’t ever sign contracts with multinational companies on the production of GM food because it will ruin you and you’ll become serfs on your own land. When you sign their contract, it means that you are constantly under their surveillance." That was the message given to the Croatian farmers by Percy Schmeiser from Canada and Gail and Tom Wiley from North Dakota, three North American farmers who held a seminar in Bizovac yesterday, which was organised by Green Action in cooperation with the Croatian Farmers Union and The Croatian Institute for the Advisory Services on Agriculture.
"Lured by promises of bigger yields and easier weed control given by companies such as Monsanto, in 1996 the American farmers were the first to start growing GM maize, soybeans and canola. Five years later they were faced with a disaster of huge proportions. Not only did the GMOs contaminate organic crops, but the biotechnological companies filed lawsuits against farmers for stealing their patented seed. In addition to this, a superweed that is resistant to a multitude of chemicals developed, and we ended up in losing our export markets", said Percy Schmeiser.
Speaking about his bad experiences, Tom Wiley pointed out that last year he lost a $10 000 contract to sell his premium soybeans, after his Japanese buyer found out that his fields were contaminated with GMOs.
"This is why we joined ‘Farmer-to-farmer’ campaign, which aims at educating farmers on issues related to GM crops. Do not trust multinational companies, think about your markets, and make sure that you introduce clearly defined laws on the ban of GM seed, because one of the causes of the contamination with the GMOs of the entire USA are the insufficiently clear laws", said Tom Wiley.
NOVI LIST, Sunday,13th January 2002
BAN ON THE IMPORT OF GM FOOD
BJELOVAR-In their attempt to explain to everyone and especially to the farmers that GM food can have harmful and fatal impacts, The Green Action in cooperation with The Croatian Farmers Union and The Croatian Institute for the Advisory Services for Agriculture, has started their campaign in Bjelovar where the North American farmers held a seminar, sharing their bad experiences connected to the production of GM food. They warned the Croatian farmers never to sign any contracts on the production of GM seed because it would ruin them and make it impossible for them to produce their own organic seed. The seminar held in Bjelovar was just the first of many to follow and is part of the pressure put on the Ministry of Agriculture to ban the import of GM food, and especially its production. What can be concluded from the announcement of the new law on the import and production of GM food and seed made by Minister of Agriculture Bozidar Pankretic, is that "superfood" made in American labs will not easily find its way to the Croatian soil and shops. The reaction of farmers at the end of the seminar in Bjelovar can be summarized in the slogan: Thanks, but no thanks!
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