May 21, 2010
From April 12-17 protesters across the European Union took part in a week of action against Genetically Modified (GM) crops in Europe.
The country that saw most of the demonstrations was Spain, the only EU member that cultivates GM crops on a large-scale. The cultivation of such crops in Spain is leading to problems in their countryside and their food. More than fifteen percent of Spanish soy and corn-based food is already contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and is not labeled appropriately, according to the Spanish Food Security Agency.
At the beginning of the week several social organisations took part in an action outside of congress protesting at the recent decision to allow German chemical giant BASF to grow GM potatoes in EU member states for industrial usage.
Environmental groups across the EU are concerned that GMOs could contaminate other crops and once they're in the food chain it will be impossible to eradicate them.
Those taking part in the action dressed as chefs and executives from BASF and Monsanto - another producer of GM technology - and offered free tortillas to passers-by giving them the option of organic or GM.
The peoples' reaction was conclusive; nobody, from the general public to congress members and their staff wanted to eat the GM tortilla.
Last year 76,000 hectares of land were cultivated with GM corn in Spain. The crop is developed with an absolute lack of transparency and control. There have been numerous cases of harvests and food contamination. Still, the government ignores the social and environmental impacts and consequences on health, which have led the other countries to ban it.
Targeting Spanish embassies
Later in the week demonstrations took place outside Spanish embassies in Cyprus, the United Kingdom, Austria, Lithuania, France and Portugal.
Finally, the week culminated in a demonstration in Madrid where 15,000 people marched under the slogan 'For a GM Free Food and Agriculture'.
Farmers, ecologists and consumers from all over Spain marched on the city calling on the government to follow the same path taken by countries like France, Germany or Austria and ban the cultivation of GM corn in Spain.
Speaking at the event David Sanches, head of the Friends of the Earth Agriculture and Food campaign said:
"The government's attitude on this issue is absolutely unacceptable. These actions show that it is clearly isolated in the EU in its position in defence of GMOs. Besides damaging our environment and endangering the public health, the Government's position is seriously damaging the image of Spain and its food abroad."