Making Sweden GMO-free
2.GMO-free zones tour
NOTE: Thanks to Akiko Frid for these inspiring accounts of how effective grasroots action is blossoming in Sweden.
1.Making Sweden GMO-free!
To all of you who are creating a GMO-free world,
I would like to draw your attention to what's happening in Sweden.
Last Monday (the 20th April 2009), one of the municipalities in Jämtland county called Ã…re annouced its decision to work towards making the municipality GMO-free. The first GMO-free municipality in Sweden is Östersund in Jämtland. Currently, all the municipalities in Jämtland county are working to make the entire county a GMO-free zone.
Many schools all over Sweden are working hard to serve more locally produced organic food to children, and some of the municipalities are also making decisions to serve locally grown organic food to homes for the elderly.
We created a network called "Hej DÃ¥ GMO - Bye-bye GMO" in February 2008, and now there are 43 contact points in 15 counties, out of a total of 21, including a Swedish speaking Finnish county, Ã…land.
Greenpeace undertook a tour this spring visiting 5 counties to encourage local groups. You can read a short report below about how successful it was.
We all understood that it is not effective to just say, "We do not want GMOs" to the avidly pro-GM Swedish government, so we started to work together with local municipalities. And it is working very well. So there is even hope in
According to an opinion poll conducted by a farmers paper, ATL, nearly 80%
of farmers in Sweden (who have more than 20 ha) are not interested in
farming with GMO crops or using GMOs in animal feed.
Several consumer opinion polls have consistently shown year after year that more than 70% of consumers do not want GMOs in their food.
However, the Swedish government does not seem to listen to farmers and
consumers, but only the GMO industry. Both the Agriculture Minister and the Environment Minister have been voting for approving GMOs and have been supporting the European Commission´s proposal to lift the national bans in other countries.
Recently, when all the EU environment ministers voted at the council on the 2nd
March, the Swedish Environment Minister, Andreas Carlgren, for the first time
voted "No" to the Commission´s proposal about Austria's national ban on a
GMO-maize T25 (however, he voted yes to lifting the MON 810 ban).
The Environment Minister said that this crop (T25) is tolerant to the
herbicide glufosinate-ammonium (GA), which has in turn been shown to cause
At the next Standing Committee (national experts) meeting (14-15 May), Bayer´s
GMO-rice, LL62, maybe on the table. This GMO-rice is tolerant to the herbicide
glufosinate-ammonium (GA). We are wondering if Sweden will vote for approving this GMO-rice, which the Environment Minister himself clearly expressed his concern about on grounds of human health. Swedish Agriculture minister and the Environment Minister both are from the Centre Party, which used to be the farmers' Party.
Greenpeace is now collecting signatures to stop this dangerous GMO-rice. Please
do sign it.
Thank you for all your excellent work to make the world GMO free! I’ll have seen some of you in Lucerne (Switzerland) on Friday!
Very best regards,
Greenpeace GMO Campaigner http://www.greenpeace.se/gmo
Hej Da GMO! - Network for GMO free zones in Sweden http://hejdagmo.se
2.GMO-free zones tour
Lots of good news and exciting stuff is happening in the EU! Good work everyone! As for Sweden, we just finished our GMO-free zones tour.
The tour (between the 20th March and the 8th April, 2009) went well. The main
aim of the tour was to raise the issues of GMOs through local media and to
inform people about the possibility of making areas GMO-free zones, by communicating with local politicians and local authorities. Also, we wanted to show people the effectiveness of working together towards the common goal of making Sweden GMO-Free.
All the local events and meetings were organized by the local groups.
We got coverage in several local papers in all the places we visited. We also got
Swedish national TV coverage, plus local in 2 places, and Swedish national radio coverage, plus local in 2 places. Our "diploma" was quite a success in terms of getting the media’s attention. We awarded the diplomas to people outside of our network who were working towards creating GMO-free zones in their areas.
The first stop was Uddevalla, where 3 different farmers groups cooperate together. We met with 4 members of the municipal council and they were willing to work for GMO-free Uddevalla. After our visit, the 4 politicians wrote a motion to make their municipality GMO-free.
The 2nd stop was Järna, the centre of bio-dynamic farming in Sweden, and we also visited Södertälje where the municipality (Järna is a part of Södertälje) works to provide more organic food for schools. We met a local politician and the person in charge of food in the municipality, and they are now working for GMO-free school lunches (it is a good beginning).
The 3rd stop was Östersund, the very first GMO-free municipality in Sweden,
where we cerebrated their successful work in promoting a healthy local food
culture and local biological/agricultural diversity. We visited a neighbouring municipality called Bräcke, where we met 3 council members. They promised to learn from Östersund and also work together with other areas within the county of Jämtland, to make the whole county a GMO-free zone.
The 4th stop was Östra Göinge, where the controversial GMO-potato with an
antibiotic resistance gene was once planted in a field trial, but since people acted hard to stop the trial, the company, Plant Science Sweden/BASF moved away from the area. We met the person in charge of environment and food at the municipality to talk about the possibility of making the area a GMO-free zone, as well as meeting the municipal commissioner and handing in a motion written by 2 citizens to make the municipality GMO-free. The commissioner said personally he agrees with the motion, and he’ll take it forward for discussion.
The 5th and the last stop was Falun/Borlänge in Dalarna. In Falun, the local group organised a very good event around GMOs and food and agriculture. It was the first gathering they organized in Falun about GMOs, and 6 politicians participated. Our visit kicked off their work. In Borlänge (a neighbouring town to Falun), we met 2 council members. During our meeting, they announced to the media that they will work for a GMO-free Borlänge. They already have a good organic school food policy, so it is logical for them to work towards a GMO-free zone.
It was great to meet local groups and witnessed their work. Especially since the Swedish government never listens to what we say. The bottom up approach from local areas is having good effects in Sweden.
The work to make Sweden GMO-free will continue.