"Coexistence" impossible, Bologna conference told (9/9/2005)

Appeal to EC and world for caution over GMO contamination
Bologna, Italy, 9 September 05

Consumers International (CI) made an appeal for caution over genetically modified organism (GMO) contamination. David Cuming, CI GM Campaign Manager, said: 'Stop GMO contamination - it can happen quickly and over vast areas and is irreversible. In places, like Italy, where there are a lot of small farms with traditional and organic crops, "co-existence" is probably impossible without removing the freedom of consumers and farmers to choose.'

Speaking at a conference in Italy, organised by CI and Regione Emilia-Romagna, David Cuming advised 'All countries worldwide must introduce strict rules to prevent contamination, and allow for GM-free zones, before allowing GMOs in their countries. The EC must wait until they have completed the full review of "co-existence" in Europe before approving new GMO crops.'

Prof. Ignacio Chapela, leading expert on GMOs told the conference '"Co-existence" of GMOs and GM-free plants is biologically impossible. If we keep thinking like this it won't be a question of - if contamination will occur: It will be a question of when and how much? We do not have the political will, the technical capacity or the independence of thought to deal with "co-existence"; neither to monitor its development, nor to remedy its consequences. Proposed biosafety and bioethical frameworks will not prevent contamination.'

GMO and consumer experts from Canada, USA, Brazil, Thailand, Zambia, Austria, Italy and UK presented their position on "co-existence", contamination and GM-free zones at the conference in Bologna. Recent examples of GMO contamination cases are: canola fields in Australia and Canada, shipments of maize to Japan and New Zealand, and illegal rice in China.

Note to editors

The EC are making decisions on whether to allow several new GMO crops into Europe and the Commission is preparing a report on how EU states are dealing with 'co-existence' expected at the end of this year.

The GM-free zone movement is growing in the EU and in the USA, with increasing interest in developing countries.

Pressure from the biotech industry is mounting in Africa for countries to grow GMOs.

Summaries of speeches made at the conference will be made available on CI website.

International conference open to the public organised by Regione Emilia-Romagna and Consumers International

'Co-existence', contamination and GM-free zones - Jeopardising consumer choice?

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