The United States may still be forging ahead with plans to expand the use of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in the food supply but yet another European country has banned the planting of GMO, following many others that have done the same.
Italy isn’t messing around with this–breaking the new law can result in a jail sentence of one to three years plus a hefty fine of 10-30,000 euros ($14-40,000).
“Free Field” for all Italians, Not Just Farmers.
The movement for banning GMO is part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s “Campo Libero”–“Free Field”–an eighteen-point action plan for Italy’s food production. The banning of GMO reflects the eighty percent of Italians who support it. Minister of Agriculture Nunzia De Girolamo puts it simply:
“Our agriculture is based on biodiversity, on quality, and we must continue to aim for these without ventures that, even from the economic point of view, wouldn’t make us competitive.”
Debate in Italy over the growing of GMO corn has been ongoing for many years. This ban is the culmination of the government’s responding to its citizens’ opposition. The government agrees that GMO affects not only the quality of the food but the lives of farmers.
GMO Crops are Tough and Persistent–Not Always in Positive Ways.
Prevention of new planting is a big step but there is a continuing problem of cross-contamination of GMO crops. In a field in Oregon, an experimental field that was planted with Monsanto’s GMO wheat over 10 years ago recently sprouted again–much to the farmer’s surprise. Historically, famers have been fed the line that GMO–corn, especially–is easier to grow, less susceptible to disease, and creates higher yields. The evidence has borne out to the contrary as depicted in the following short documentary “Ten Years of Failure”.
The issues surrounding GMO are many. Some countries focus on the loss of biodiversity (Mexico, Philippines, and Peru), some on food safety (Thailand) others on the failure of GMO crops to perform as promised; there has been a series of farmers’ suicides in India, purportedly due to the devastating results of failures of GMO cotton crops in India.
Power to The People.
Italy is the most recent country to take a stand for the retention of high quality, safe, environmentally-healthy and -sustainable foods, and young, educated entrepreneurial eco-agro farmers.
Its people were a big factor in that decision; they made it clear that they wouldn’t buy GMO foods, which would cause the agriculture sector of the economy to suffer.
When government and corporate interests impose such drastic changes to how crops are raised and the very make-up of the plants themselves as in GMO farming, consumers lose freedom of choice (among other things) and everyone suffers. Excepting, of course, the manufacturers of the GMO seeds and chemicals.
Perhaps and hopefully, Italy will be the next model for other countries to follow when it comes to the production of genetically-modified food.