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Action on GMOs Gathers Momentum

On January 22, GM campaigners came together under the umbrella of a ‘GM Gathering Momentum’ conference in north London. The meeting was an opportunity to hear the latest developments in GM crop science and European licensing as well as networking between local and regional groups of activists. Organisations taking part in the conference included the Gaia Foundation, the World Development Movement, Econexus, ETC Group and Genewatch UK.

On January 22, GM campaigners came together under the umbrella of a ‘GM Gathering Momentum’ conference in north London. The meeting was an opportunity to hear the latest developments in GM crop science and European licensing as well as networking between local and regional groups of activists. Organisations taking part in the conference included the Gaia Foundation, the World Development Movement, Econexus, ETC Group and Genewatch UK. An initial two hour workshop focussed on practical steps to reinvigorating the GM debate in the UK including supermarket demonstrations, sticker campaigns, speaking to farming communities and direct actions. A separate workshop ‘Tackling the Myths’ challenged the claim that GM offers a solution to world hunger and climate change. In response to the recent efforts of the GM industry to pitch GM technology as the green-revolution of the 21st century, speakers highlighted examples of falling productivity, higher pesticide and herbicide use and lack of success with ‘climate-ready’ technologies.

According to Liz Snook, one of the conference organizers, many of those attending were inspired to get involved by the extreme pro GM stance of the coalition government: “Gathering Momentum was the largest anti Genetic Modification gathering in many years, with over 120 people travelling from the Highlands to Dublin to attend. Discussions ranged from how best to tackle field trials, to food commodities trading, land grabs and the development of GM livestock.”

Participants learnt that three percent of UK diesel now contains GM biofuels and that the world’s only GM mosquito production unit is based in Oxford. “This was balanced with reminders that agroecology still produces 70 percent of the world’s food. And that traditional heritage seeds are providing drought resistant, disease resistant and high yielding crop varieties, cheaply, quickly and effectively” said Liz. Following the conference the European Court of Justice has ruled in favour of a combined corporate lawsuit brought by US seed companies. It claims that France acted illegally when it banned Monsanto’s MON810 maize variety from cultivation in 2008. Although the Court’s ruling is not yet legally binding it is likely to have repercussions for any country hoping to ban a GM crop any time soon.
On a positive note Farmers Weekly recently reported that: “Genetically-modified crops could be banned in Europe to prevent public protests, according to a draft list of rules by the European Commission. Under plans to give member states the freedom to decide whether to grow GM crops, bans could also be justified to keep public order.” Now where did I put my scythe?

www.stopgm.org.uk