GMO-Free Italy Coalition, appeal to candidates in the European elections

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The ‘GMO-Free Italy’ Coalition appeals to the candidates in the European elections of 8 and 9 June 2024 to commit to rejecting the deregulation of new GMOs, new generation biotechnologies called NGT (New Genomic Techniques), in Italy renamed TEA (Assisted Evolution Techniques). (1)

The more than 50 farmers’, environmental, organic and consumer organizations – including Égalité – that make up the Coalition are committed to protecting health, the environment and biodiversity.

New GMOs like the ‘old’ ones

The sentences of the EU Court of Justice equated NGTs to GMOs and reiterated that they cannot be considered outside the scope of Directive 2001/18/EC, which defines GMOs and regulates them by imposing:

  • risk assessment,
  • traceability,
  • labelling. (2)

According to this regulation Italy has exercised the right to ban the cultivation of GMOs on its territory, with the favor of the majority of consumers and all organic farmers, creating the basis for the GMO-free food supply chain which today is synonymous with Made in Italy .

The unacceptable proposal for a regulation on NGTs

At European level there is a “Proposal for a new Regulation on plants produced by certain new genomic techniques”, passed at first reading in the European Parliament and now under discussion in the Council of Member States, awaiting the start of the trilogue negotiations. (3)

The EU Council of Agriculture Ministers did not reach a qualified majority on the proposal as several Member States expressed opposition or doubts in proceeding by constituting a blocking minority.

The concerns expressed are:

  • the absence of the guarantee of being able to separate organic supply chains from GMO ones to protect them from contamination;
  • the cancellation of the possibility of restricting or banning the cultivation of GMOs on the national territory;
  • the impact of the patents that these new GMOs will have in terms of concentration of the market in few hands, a point on which the Council continues its work.

The Italian gamble

In Italy instead, on 31 May 2023, with the Drought Decree, an amendment was approved that opens up the open-field cultivation of NGTs, without yet having a European law on the matter. (4)

One year later, was implanted with notification B/IT/24/01 on first experimental NGT rice field called “Ris8imo” at the Radice Fossati company in Mezzana Bigli (Pavia). Italy has thus lost its position as the first GMO-free producing country.

The Coalition’s appeal to European election  candidates

The outcome of the European elections of June will be decisive for the continuation of the approval process of the new community legislation for the regulation of NGTs. The Coalition therefore asks candidates for the European Parliament to sign the following essential points in the European legislation on new GMOs:

1) Programmatic commitment to defend the precautionary principle and the Opt-out of Member States, allowing Italy to remain a GMO-free country.

2) Oppose the classification method of NGT1 and NGT2 as it is not based on scientific evidence; a choice that effectively opens up the total deregulation of GMOs arbitrarily classified as NGT1.

3) Ensure that the regulation guarantees the physical and not just documentary traceability of NGT1 and NGT2 products throughout the entire agricultural and agri-food chain derived from it, with adequate and clear labeling to allow the consumer to express their preference easily and immediately at any time.

4) Ensure that a careful analysis of the rules necessary for coexistence is made in the regulation and guarantee the protection of the organic supply chain by guaranteeing the absence of risk of cross-contamination in every part of the agricultural and agri-food supply chain at European level.

5) Ensure at a European level that the regulation protects farmers in terms of NGT contamination, unequivocally resolving the problem of patents on NGT1, while broadening the analysis to new forms of intellectual property guarantee such as platforms and other proprietary rights.

6) Commitment to collaborate in the future on relevant environmental issues with civil society as a whole, inviting the Coalition and the Associations belonging to it to continuous and participatory discussion.

7) Commitment to reject the proposal if it does not guarantee the points mentioned above and in fact opens up the deregulation of GMOs based on an evaluation and consequent inappropriate and arbitrary classification of NGTs.

Voters informed before voting

The Coalition ‘Italy Free from GMOs’ invites you to sign the appeal as a list or as individual candidates and to communicate your sharing of the commitments indicated above, by sending a response to this email address no later than 3 June 2024: italialiberadaogm@gmail.com.

Before the vote of 8-9 June, through various communication actions, the Coalition will inform Italian citizens about the feedback received and the positions taken by the various Lists and candidates.

The lawyer Dario Dongo, founder of GIFT – Great Italian Food Trade and of the non-profit organization Égalité, has always been committed to the deregulation of new GMOs. As a candidate for the 2024 European elections with the Peace, Land, Dignity movement, he confirms and relaunches his positions, expressed in the book ‘GMO the big scam‘ and relaunched in his electoral programme, available , here.

Marta Strinati

Footnotes

(1) Dario Dongo. NGTs, new GMOs. Scientists and ANSES expose the risks of deregulation. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 23.12.23

(2) Dario Dongo, Giulia Torre. New GMOs, Alt from the EU Court. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 31.7.18

(3) Dario Dongo, Alessandra Mei. New GMOs and seed exchange, the shame. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 1.5.24

(4) Dario Dongo, Marta Singed. Italy. The ‘drought decree’ becomes a Trojan horse for new GMOs. Civil society protests. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 31.5.23

Marta Strinati

Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".