New GMOs, reuse bans and seed exchange in Italy. House stop

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The Agriculture Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, on 13.1.20, forced the government to halt four draft legislative decrees, related to seeds and plant propagation materials, in the parts where they tried to surreptitiously introduce the green light for new GMOs (PBTs, Plant Breeding Techniques) and the ban on the reuse and exchange of seeds in Italy. (1)

The coalition of associations committed to protecting the environment and health, organic supply chain, consumers and social justice has prevailed over the diktats of pesticide and seed monopolists. (2) #ItaliaNoOgm!

Seeds and plant breeding material, the four controversial schemes

The draft legislative decrees in question pertain to:

– production and marketing of propagating material and fruit and vegetable plants (No. 208),

– Protection of plants from harmful organisms (No. 209),

– Production for the purpose of marketing and sale of seed products (No. 211),

– Production and marketing of vine propagating materials (No. 212).

Parliament’s delegation to the government concerned updating Italian regulations on seeds and plant propagating material with respect to EU regulations on plant protection and official public controls (3,4,5). However, the government had taken the opportunity to pursue other goals unrelated to the delegation:

– introduce the conditions for admitting the deliberate release of GMOs, old and new, into Italy,

– Restrict competition in the seed trade,

– Deny farmers the opportunity to reuse seed and exchange part of crops as seed or propagation material.

Issues of law

The European delegation law, introduced in Italy in 2012, serves the ‘periodic adaptation of the national system to the system of the European Union,’ based on the ‘principles of attribution, subsidiarity, proportionality, loyal cooperation, efficiency, transparency and democratic participation.’ (6) Legislative delegation, in this context, is ‘aimed exclusively at the implementation of European directives and framework decisions to be transposed into national law, excluding any other provision of legislative delegation not directly attributable to the transposition of European legislative acts‘. And ‘acts transposing European Union directives may not provide for the introduction or maintenance of higher levels of regulation than the minimum required by those directives‘ (Law 234/12, Article 32).

Government provisions additional to the delegation-aside from being unconstitutional, for the above reasons-are in conflict with relevant European regulations and applicable international treaties. (7) With particular regard to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources and for Food and Agriculture(ITPGRFA), according to which ‘no provision (…) shall entail a restriction on the right of farmers to save, use, exchange and sell seed or propagating material‘ (Article 9.3). And treaty states have a duty, among other things, to ensure the participation of farmers ‘in making decisions concerning the use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising therefrom’ (Article 9.2).

Coldiretti vs. Italian farmers and civil society

The clumsy attempt by (now former) Minister Teresa Bellanova to pave the way for new GMOs in Italy, on closer inspection, represents nothing more than the execution of an order given by Coldiretti President Ettore Prandini. (8) The equally unfortunate idea of prohibiting farmers from reusing and exchanging their seeds in turn absolves the interests of Bonifiche Ferraresi (BF) SpA (CAI), the majority shareholder of Società Italiana Sementi (SIS), which has already been convicted of abusive business practices in managing the monopoly on Senatore Cappelli wheat. BF SpA, by the way, is owned by both the president and the wife of Coldiretti’s secretary general. According to reports in the poison dossier on Federconsorzi 2, aka Consorzi Agrari d’Italia S.p.A. (9)

Italian farmers have only to lose, on both of the aforementioned fronts. The new GMOs-as well as the ‘classic’ ones-are as functional as the old ones in selling more agrotoxics, as we have seen (10, 11). Higher costs, more dependence on pesticide and seed monopolists(Big 4), no uptick on price lists. And civil society-in Italy as in Europe-is increasingly shunning both GMOs and pesticide residues in food. But what interests does Coldiretti really represent, beyond the personal interests of its ‘magic circle’ ? (12)

Italian politics is at a crossroads, continue to follow the orders of the magic circle or respond to the needs of the people.

#Égalité!

Dario Dongo

no to new GMOs

Notes

(1) Dario Dongo. #ItaliaNoOgm. No to GMOs in Italy, warning to parliament and government. Égalité. 11/27/20, https://www.egalite.org/italianoogm-no-agli-ogm-in-italia-diffida-a-parlamento-e-governo/

(2) The coalition was formed by Acu, Aiab, Altragricoltura Bio, Ari, Asci, Assr. Agr. Biodinamica, Civiltà Contadina, Zero GMO Coordination, Crocevia, Deafalité, Égalité, European Consumers, European Coordination Via Campesina, Fair Watch, FederBio, Firab, Greenpeace, ISDE, Legambiente, LIPU, Navdanya, Pro Natura, Slow Food, Terra!, Unaapi, WWF

(3) Law 4.10.19, no. 117. Delegation of powers to the government for the transposition of European directives and the implementation of other acts of the European Union – European Delegation Act 2018. (19G00123) See Article 11 .3 , https://www.gazzettaufficiale.it/eli/id/2019/10/18/19G00123/sg

(4) Reg. EU 2016/2031, on protective measures against organisms harmful to plants. Consolidated text as of 12/14/19 at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/IT/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32016R2031&qid=1606603566861

(5) Reg. EU 2017/625 on official controls and other official activities carried out to ensure the enforcement of food and feed law, animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products. Consolidated text as of 12/14/19 at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/IT/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32017R0625&qid=1606603760853

(6) Law 24.12.12, no. 234. General rules on Italy’s participation in the formation and implementation of European Union legislation and policies. https://www. gazzettaufficiale.it/atto/serie_generale/caricaDettaglioAtto/originario?atto.dataPubblicazioneGazzetta=2013-01-04&atto.codiceRedazionale=13G00003

(7) Dario Dongo. New GMOs, Alt from the EU Court. GIFT(Great Italian Food Trade). 7/31/18, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/salute/nuovi-ogm-alt-dalla-corte-ue

(8) Paul Viana. Coldiretti. Prandini: now Bellanova to defend ‘genome editing’ in Brussels. Avvenire. 12.9.19, https://www.avvenire.it/economia/pagine/prandini-adesso-bellanova-difenda-a-bruxelles-il-genome-editing

(9) Dario Dongo. Consorzi Agrari d’Italia SpA, Federconsorzi 2 ? The Poison Dossier. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 1.1.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/consorzi-agrari-ditalia-spa-federconsorzi-2-il-dossier-dei-veleni

(10) Dario Dongo. New GMOs serving agrotoxics. Proof of 9 in Monsanto’s new GE corn. Petition. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 4.7.20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/consum-attori/nuovi-ogm-a-servizio-degli-agrotossici-la-prova-del-9-nel-nuovo-mais-ge-di-monsanto-petizione

(11) Dario Dongo. New GMOs, the big bluff. Égalité. 4.7.19, https://www.egalite.org/nuovi-ogm-il-grande-bluff/

(12) Dario Dongo. Coldiretti, Federconsorzi 2 and the director of AGEA. Senate Question. 8.1.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/mercati/coldiretti-federconsorzi-2-e-il-direttore-di-agea-interrogazione-al-senato