Organic movement ups the pressure on GM crops

International petition calls for blanket ban on genetic modification in agriculture, food

In a dramatic bid to heat up debate over genetic engineering, delegates from more than 60 countries attending the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) have called on governments and regulatory agencies throughout the world to immediately ban the use of genetic modification in all kinds of agriculture and food production.

The call for concerted international global action was led by Patrick Holden, Director of the UK's Soil Association. It received overwhelming support from 740 IFOAM member organisations attending an IFOAM congress in Mar del Planta, Argentina, especially those representing small farmers in the less developed nations.

Helen Browning of the Soil Association told ENDS Daily today that the declaration was "highly significant for debate in Europe, where the widespread application of GMOs in agriculture is now far from inevitable and can still be stopped".

"Retailers and governments are now highly sensitive to public opinion on this," she continued. "At the same time the new German coalition government needs to sharpen the EU's position on GMOs during the early months of its presidency before the next round of World Trade Organisation talks, where conflict with the USA is inevitable."

Outgoing IFOAM president Hervé la Prarie of French organic producer's association FNAB also welcomed the declaration today. "The organic movement in Europe may have won the battle to keep GMO's out of the organic food chain," he told ENDS Daily, "but organic producers across the globe know they still face grave problems in the future if, in the mean time, genetic engineering is permitted everywhere in conventional agriculture."

IFOAM estimates that worldwide production of GM crops already exceeds 40m hectares. The declaration calls for all GM crops to be banned on the basis that they pose unacceptable threats to human health and the environment while violating small farmers' property rights and undermining the future security and sustainability of the food system.

Follow Up:
IFOAM, tel: +49 6853 5190; UK Soil Association, tel: +44 117 929 0661; FNAB, tel: +33 2 98 25 86 04.

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