This seemed more than a little surprising in a country where the population is amongst the most opposed to GM foods anywhere in the world, not to mention Poland having a national ban on GM crops. But what EuropaBio failed to mention was that the plantings it was trumpeting were illegal.
In Poland itself, as this article makes clear, representatives of the biotech industry openly discuss ways of getting around the law, while Monsanto Poland uses its website to offer technical and practical help to illegal growers of GM maize.
POLAND - 3000 hectares of illegal GM corn
Christopher Noisette, October 2008
[translated into English from the French by Claire Robinson of GMWatch]
Despite a national ban, Polish farmers have bought and sown GM maize seed maize. According to the Polish maize producers' organization, 320 hectares of GM maize were grown in 2007 and 3000 acres this year, a 10-fold increase in illegal plantings.
Quoted in the newspaper Rzeczpospolita, R. Gabarkiewicz, director of GBE Poland - Green Biotechnology in Europe - which in Poland represents, among others, Monsanto, BASF, Bayer and Pioneer, said that the laws are less restrictive in Poland than in Germany, and that this explains why Poles will soon exceed the Germans in acreage devoted to transgenic plants.
Less restrictive? But what's more strict than the [Polish] ban? This proponent of plant biotechnology also claims that it is only illegal to sell seeds on national territory, but that it is legal to publicise GM maize MON810 in Poland.
Businesses therefore give details of dealers in Germany, the Czech Republic or Slovakia, three countries that border onto Poland. And on the website of Monsanto Poland, there is technical and practical information to help farmers to grow GM maize.
Similarly, as Adam Koryzna, chairman of the Coalition for modern agriculture, says, without adequate legislation, each farmer is free to do as he wishes, as long as he does it 'on the sly' (secretly). Koryzna has also confessed to having grown GM maize for several years in the region of Opole, but stresses that his harvest has not been sold but used to feed his own livestock.
The state authorities took no action against these farmers even though these plantings are illegal as they have not been notified, contrary to the law passed in 2001.
NOTE: In late September the biotech industry lobby group EuropaBio announced in a press release that, "The cultivated acreage of biotech crops has increased over ten fold in Poland... in 2008".