Special report on GM crisis in Italy (13/10/2004)

A very useful report from Roberto Pinton of Italy's Greenplanet on the decree put forward by the Agriculture Minister Gianni Alemanno, aimed at strictly controlling GMOs, which is being blocked by Belusconi. Roberto explains the remarkably broad-based coalition, supporting the decree and working to stop GM contamination in Italy.


The decree was thought of positively by the envirommental movement. According to the decree, no GMO crop is allowed without a regional law (12 regions out of 20 have declared themselves GMO free, together with about 1,200 city councils; two more are discussing new laws and only two are possibilist about GMOs), from 6 to 12 months' imprisonment (or a fine from 2,600 to 29,500 euros) for farmers who contaminate neighbouring farms with GMO pollen, sharp division of chains etc.

Tomorrow a meeting State/Regional governments will be held in Rome about the decree. A coalition of conventional farmers' associations, organic farmers' associations, environmental associations, 12 out of 20 Italian regional goverments, trade unions, political parties (ranging from the conservative Alleanza nazionale to the new-communist Rifondazione comunista), consumers' associations, national retailers' associations, confederations of processing crafts, will take a sit-in ("Presidio per le liberta", Defence of freedom).

Yesterday Mr. Pasquale Pistorio, vice president of Confindustria, General confederation of Italian industry, said, "It is a just decree, as it is not to be restrictive, but its aim is only to avoid one person's freedom interfering with someone's else's".

The two largest farmers' associations are part of the coalition. The first one is Coldiretti (www.coldiretti.it) National federation of Italian farmers, 18 regional federations, 98 provincial seats, 765 offices all over Italy, 568,000 members, 52% of Italian farms), the second is Confederazione Italiana agricoltori (Italian farmers confederacy, www.cia.it, about the same numbers).

The only farmers' association possibilist about GMOs is Confagricoltura (www.confagricoltura.it, General confederation of Italian agriculture, made by large landowners)

Coalition "Liberi da OGM" (OGM Free coalition) is made by:

Coldiretti, Verdi Ambiente e Società (VAS), Coop, Legambiente, ACLI Terra, ACLI, ACU, Adiconsum, Aiab, Altragricoltura, Amab, Arsia-Agenzia Sviluppo Agricolo Toscana, Arusia-Agenzia Sviluppo Agricolo Umbria, Asseme, Associazione per l'Agricoltura Biodinamica, Associazione Nazionale Città del Vino, Associazione Pro Natura, Associazione Fare Verde, Azione Giovani-Alleanza Nazionale, Coordinamento Comuni Antitransgenici, Centro Internazionale Crocevia, CGIL, CNA Alimentare, Confapi, Cocis, Confartigianato-Alimentazione, Confconsumatori, Confesercenti, Consiglio dei Diritti Genetici, Consorzio biologico per lo sviluppo sostenibile, Democratici di Sinistra-Area Agricoltura, Federazione Italiana per l'Agricoltura Organica, Focsiv, Fondazione Nuova Italia, Forum Ambientalista, Fresco Latte, Greenpeace, Intesa consumatori (Adoc, Adusbef, Codacons, Federconsumatori), Istituto per la certificazione Etica e Ambientale, Istituto Consumatori e Utenti, Italia Nostra, La Margherita-Dipartimento Agricoltura e Dipartimento Ambiente, Lipu, ManiTese, Movimento Difesa del Cittadino, Regione Abruzzo-Assessorato Agricoltura, Regione Basilicata-Assessorato Agricoltura, Regione Calabria-Assessorato Agricoltura, Regione Campania-Assessorato Agricoltura, Regione Emilia Romagna-Assessorato Agricoltura, Regione Lazio-Assessorato Agricoltura, Regione Marche-Assessorato Agricoltura, Regione Piemonte-Presidenza, Regione Puglia-Assessorato Agricoltura, Regione Siciliana-Presidenza, Regione Toscana-Assessorato Agricoltura, Regione Umbria-Assessorato Agricoltura, Rifondazione Comunista-Area agricoltura, Sinistra Ecologista, Slowfood, Terra Sana, Unione Nazionale Consumatori, Verdi-Il Sole che ride, WWF.

full coverage of the story (only in Italian, sorry) by www.greenplanet.net

Italian government torn over GMOs
[Date: 2004-10-12]

In a move that has split the government, the Italian Council of Ministers has blocked a motion, put forward by the Agriculture Minister Gianni Alemanno, aimed at regulating the future introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Italy.

Following last month's decision by the European Commission to allow EU farmers to commercially grow up to 17 different types of genetically modified (GM) maize seeds, Mr Alemanno had proposed a law strictly regulating the planting of GM crops.

'There is still a lot to know on GMOs and if we show ourselves to be too flexible now, we might one day find ourselves in an ungovernable situation,' said the minister, explaining his cautious approach. 'We must also take into account that 12 Italian regions have declared themselves GMO-free,' he added.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, however, branded the measure 'illiberal' stating it violated citizens' liberties. As a result, the government is now split between those who feel the proposed measures are too strict and those who say GMOs go against the Italian tradition of biological products of quality.

Antonio Marzano, Minister for industry, has sided with Mr Berlusconi, stating that 'Italy cannot renounce the development of GMOs', as has Giancarlo Galan, president of the Veneto region, who said in a statement: 'I think that scientific research can't and shouldn't stop. [...] Scientific research stops in front of nothing. If we don't do it here, someone else will do it somewhere else. If we don't do it in Europe, they will do it in Israel or Egypt. It is unstoppable.'

'The traceability of the product is what matters,' he added. 'We must demand to know what we are eating and drinking.' Altero Matteoli, the Environment Minister has also called for a less rigid decree.

Siding with Mr Alemanno, Mr Ermete Realacci from the enviromental association, Legambiente was reported by Greenplanet as saying: 'I understand the pressure Mr Berlusconi is under from foreign heads of states and powerful economic lobbies, but it is not possible to sustain that tourism and food quality are the petrol of Italy and then burn the well.'

The Italian Cooperative Confederation said in a statement that 'the first objective to pursue is the defence and valorisation of the authenticity of Italian agriculture, which is clearly not orientated towards GMOs. In this optic, we support the initiative of the minister Alemanno aimed at regulating the issue and which promotes above all traceability and therefore guarantees transparency for the consumers.'

Despite the fact that the cabinet broke up without an agreement on Mr Alemanno's proposed rules, the agriculture minister declared that 'I will bring my decree forward come what may. If it proves impossible to get it through the council of ministers we shall have to find other ways.'

In a recent survey, 68 per cent of Italians were found to distrust GM fruits and vegetables.

Category: Miscellaneous
Data Source Provider: Press sources
Document Reference: Based on information from press sources
Subject Index : Biotechnology; Agriculture

RCN: 22751
CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities

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