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Spain: driving out transgenic crops

Spain is the only country in Europe that cultivates genetically modified (GM) crops on a large scale: 10,000 hectares of transgenic corn have spread across Spanish fields since 1998. With legislation made to measure for multinational companies, and a government increasingly susceptible to pressure from the US, Spain has been transformed into the transgenic gateway to Europe.
Spain: driving out transgenic cropsSpanish non-GM corn seeking refuge outside the French embassy.In spite of a lack of any kind of information or debate, civil society, including Friends of the Earth Spain, mobilised itself against the imposition of GM crops from the start, disseminating information, exerting political pressure by means of many different initiatives, and building strong alliances, especially with farmer organisations (such as COAG, a member of La Via Campesina).

 

The anti-GM movement, which also involves Friends of the Earth Spain’s local groups, has already seen some significant campaign victories. The Balearic Islands has been declared a GMO-free zone, and there has been strong resistance in many regions such as Galicia and Madrid. The imposition of unacceptable coexistence rules was brought to a halt as well. In 2009 more than 8,000 people demonstrated in Zaragoza, the capital of Aragon (the European region with the most GM crops), and 150 actions took place across the country. In 2010, 15,000 people gathered in Madrid to demand a ban on GM crops.

 

Gradually the state of play in Spain is shifting: at last most Spanish people know what GMOs are and what the consequences of growing and using them are, and opposition has increased.

 

In 2010, the area of GM maize grown in Spain decreased for the second consecutive year. Friends of the Earth Spain are continuing the campaign and are now involved in other collaborative struggles, including building the movement for food sovereignty.

 

“The fight against GMOs in a country like Spain has always been very hard. During all these years, we were the only country that grew GMO crops in Europe and we were seen almost as a hopeless case. But we’ve shown that through mobilisations and campaigns based on serious and rigorous information, on the basis of the vision of hundreds of people, and through teamwork with other organisations, that we can achieve great changes. And this allows us to look to the future with hope, with the real possibility of a GMO-free future in Spain.”


David Sanchez Carpio

 

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