GM Protest in Basque Autonomous Region (21/4/2004)

The only place in the EU with any significant GM rop ultivation is Spain where a Bt maize is being grown.

Subject: Re: Monsanto GMO Protest
Date: Tuesday 20 April 2004 09:23
From: "Helen" <[email protected]>

Dear Friends,

EHNE organized a symbolic burning of GMO seed in the main public square of Gasteiz, capital of the Basque Autonomous Region on april 16th, eve of International Farmer Protest Day. The seed burnt was actually Novartis (now Syngenta) Bt maize authorised for commercial sowing in 1998. The seed bags we burnt were from both Novartis and Monsanto (the "PR33P6"7 810 Bt maize from Monsanto authorised for commercial sowing in the Spanish Member State in 2003 in an ethically controversial interpretation fo the EU moratoria). The action attracted a huge number of mass media and we have since had many interviews in different press/radios.

We also sent a letter to all our Union members about a month ago reminding them why sowing Gm maize would be problematic and suggesting they return any such seed already bought. The letter was sent to coincide with the start of the corn sowing season here. The letter was also printed in our Union newspaper, Ardatza.

At the moment the situation regarding use of GM maize in the Basque Country is the following:

CAPV: (Basque Autonomous Gov): there is presumably no use of GM maize, as far as we know no input coop. is selling the seed and in fact the corn borer is not a big problem here. The Basque Government maintains it has a moratoria but there is absolutely no control in practice (the fact that our Union could get hold of seed and any farmer in the CAPV could have sown it is proof of lack of control). However, in Alava, where there would be most commercial crops, such maize is not of interest to farmers. The Environmental Department of the Basque Country is considering proposing the CAPV as a GM-free area, Agriculture is not so clear.

Nafarroa (Navarre): there may be some use of such maize. In 1998 there were perhaps 800 hectares (all statistics come from the seed companies!!!), but we feel use has diminished due to inconsistent yields, difficulties to sell crops... There are many areas of Navarre in which the corn borer is not a problem, and where it is, no consistent benefits were derived from such maize. In fact there are scientists whose research also concludes the same. Unfortunately we cannot as yet get them to say so in public but we hope that soon there may be some published results in scientific journals. The Navarre Government is completely pro-GMOs.

Iparralde (French Basque Country): as far as we are aware there is no GM maize, both due to ELB farmer Union anti-GM action and due to the French moratoria.

In other parts of the Spanish Member State such as Catalonia and Aragon there is more GM maize being used.

Helen Groome

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