Tuesday, 4th September 2012 - Workshops at Mundo-B


World Café
Open between 14:00 and 19:00
At Mundo-B
Address: Rue d'Edimbourg, 26. Brussels
Organized by IFOAM and others

We believe that everyone who attends the GMO free conference is an expert in their own field and has something special to share. So we want to create a special space where YOU can also contribute to the programme. That’s the idea behind our "World Café" – an informal space where all conference participants can connect with others to share information, solve problems or create something entirely new! How will it work? A blackboard with time slots on it will be provided where participants can schedule their suggestions for the parallel agenda, or browse what is on offer and sign up to join a proposed session. Of course, you can also use the café as a space to relax, meet others informally or just take a break. It is definitely worth dropping in – you can’t tell who you might meet!

Informal exchange on direct action against GMOs
Between 12:00 and 14:00
Address: Plateau, 30 rue du Berger, Brussels
Close to Mundo-B
ASEED and Field Liberation Movement

Direct action against GMOs has taken a new dynamic over the last few years, with field liberation actions taking place in countries like France, Belgium and the UK. What are the experiences of these actions, what is their impact? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Do they complement other campaigns or are they counterproductive? This workshop is meant to exchange experiences, compare strategies in different contexts.


1: How to block the crops?

In the last 15 years only 2 GM crops were authorised for cultivation in Europe, now Commissioner Dalli is pushing for around 20 new GM crops and wants to open Europe’s fields for them, ignoring consumers rejection, additional burden for huge majority for farmers and the food sectors which are faced with more and more contamination risks. After a short overview which crops are in the pipeline and how and by whom the decisions will be taken, the main focus is the strategy how we can block the crops on Brussels and especially on national level. This workshop rely on active contributions with short updates about the situation in key countries from the participants.

Moderators: Mute Schimpf (Friends of the Earth Europe), Anais Fourest (Greenpeace France), Heidemarie Porstner (Global 2000), Heike Moldenhauer (FoE Germany).

2: Patents on life – update and next steps

The European Parliament has taken a milestone decision in May 2012 to adopt a resolution against patents on plants and animals derived from conventional breeding (European Parliament resolution of 10 May 2012 on the patenting of essential biological processes). However, the problem is not solved. The European Patent Office continuous to grant patents on plants and animals. The European Parliament seems to be ready to adopt a so called Unitary Patent. Under this new law it will not be allowed to sell and use of breeding material, independently from the monopoly claims of patent holders, which is needed for producing agricultural plant and animals. Now Civil Society organisations are planning to take next steps.

Moderators: Eva Gelinsky (IG Saatgut), Pierre Sultana (Arche Noah), Christoph Then (No Patents On Seeds)

Presentation_Pierre Sultana

Presentation_Dr. Eva Gelinski

Presentation_Christoph Then

Presentation_Gudrun Kordecki

Background paper no patents on seeds

Background paper unitary patent

3: GMO contamination of Seed – political, technical, legal situation

GMO-free seed is the fundamental pre-requisite of all GMO-free agriculture and food. What exactly does that mean? The concept of zero tolerance for GMO contamination of feed has been subject to technical guidelines which actually allow for some contamination. The Commission is now suggesting similar “technical adjustments” for food. Will seeds be next? Also the present strict zero tolerance for GMOs in seed are actually handled quite differently in different member states. Some of them even seem to mistake zero testing and zero action on contamination for zero tolerance. Most of the preventive and testing costs fall on those who want to be sure GMO-free and not on those who make this difficult. This workshop will present the state of the art with respect to testing and national implementation and look at the EU Commissions concepts for the future of GMO-free seed and the polluter pays principle.

Moderators: Sigrid Herbst (IG Saatgut), Benny Haerlin (Save Our Seeds)

Presentation_Sigrid Herbst

4: Reclaiming the Bio-economy

Taking up proposals from capital-intensive industry, the EU has been promoting a ‘bioeconomy’ as necessary future whereby eco-efficient biorefineries will convert renewable resources from an intensive, industrialised conventional agriculture into diverse products. IFOAM-Europe and others have promoted a different bioeconomy vision, whereby agroecological methods are linked with short food-supply chains and public goods. Those divergent visions have been contending for influence over R&D agendas and other support measures. Agroecological approaches have made some gains within Framework Programme 7 but remain vulnerable to marginalisation. At least since the early 1970s the environmental movement has been criticising the economic growth paradigm based on the unsustainable use of resources, notably the use of non-renewable, climate-changing energy sources. In parallel the movement has been demanding a more sustainable development, especially based on renewable sources of materials and energy. Workshop participants will discuss strategies for reclaiming the bioeconomy concept along those lines.

Moderators: Christof Potthof (Gen-ethical Network, Berlin), Les Levidow (Open University, London)


5: Description GMO Risk Assessment and EFSA

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is the EU Agency in charge of assessing data for GMOs risk assessments supplied by the biotech industry. It has been heavily criticized from its inception for being strongly biased towards the industry and lacking scientific independence (see also workshop on conflicts of interests). In 2008, the Environment Council has unanimously called for a strengthening of the risk assessment and the inclusion of the socio-economic consequences of the introduction of GMOs in the authorization process. The workshop will look at the weak standards of risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. How are the risks assessed? What are the most relevant deficiencies? What do we know about risks? The aims of the workshop are to answer some of these questions, to gain better understanding of strengths and weaknesses in current discussions about risk assessments and authorizations, and to find out opportunities for civil society organizations to get active.

Moderators: Arnaud Apoteker (Greens/EFA group), Christoph Then (Testbiotech), Frédéric Jacquemart (Inf’OGM)

Presentation_Christoph Then

Background document risk assessment

6: Practical & participatory, biodiversity oriented research projects and concepts in the CAP and 8th Research Framework

Since the IAASTD report was first published in 2009 a debate on the paradigms of agricultural research and sustainability has emerged slowly, yet steadily. From “Save and Grow” (FAO) to – “Sufficiency vs Productionism” (EU SCAR report) a new perspective is emerging to heal our destructive use of resources today and to measure the efficiency of agricultural innovation and development. We will go through short history of a paradigm shift in the making as well as learn about Today´s research projects from two presentations. 1) New stimuli for tomorrows agriculture -From the perspective of an animal or a plant: Plants communicate with scents. They warn each other when attacked by insects or lure the appropriate 'bodyguard' to help them get rid of the ennemy. Belowground plants build up extensive networks with their roots and fungi (mycorrhiza) - a dynamic market place, where they exchange nutrients and informations. And a farmer asks: How can I feed earthworms so they'll build up a rich and healthy soil? What conditions do they need? Knowing more about these relationship networks, knowing more about plants and animals by observing and recognizing their capacities opens up exciting new perspectives for tomorrows agriculture. 2) The innovation potential of agro-ecology, and learn about the Horizon 2020, and the agro-ecological innovation project.

Related links:
- IAASTD Reports
- Save and grow
- Agro-Ecological Innovation

Moderators: Steve Emmott (British lawyer), Florianne Koechlin (Blueridge Institute), Bram Moeskops (IFOAM), Benny Haerlin (Save Our Seeds)

7: HR crops ante portas – how to hold the EU door closed?

Since their introduction in 1995 the cultivation of genetically modified crops has largely been restricted to North and South America. Over 80% of the GM crops grown are modified to resist sprays of chemical herbicides, and are known as herbicide resistant (HR) crops. But now the biotech industry is well advanced in its plans to introduce HR crops into the European Union. The workshop will give an overview over the main facts: Which HR crops are in the European pipeline, which are the key arguments against HR crops, what are the specific problems with the pesticides glyphosate and glufosinate? In addition to that we will guide a discussion what groups and activists can do to stop the authorisation of HR crops.

Related links:
- Herbicide resistant crops (Friends of the Earth Europe)
- Herbicide tolerance and GM crops Why the world should be Ready to Round Up glyphosate (Greenpeace)

Moderators: Heike Moldenhauer (Friends of the Earth Germany), Herman van Bekkem (Greenpeace)

8: Why do honeybees need a GMO-free Europe?

From all the agronomic techniques used within the intensive agricultural model, the GM cultivars are one of those threatening the most non-GM agricultural productions. Not only they are a quality menace for all the other productions, but also farmers become dependant from GM seed suppliers. Among all agricultural producers, beekeepers have strong arguments to be concerned about these crops. Europe, continent of long beekeeping tradition, needs to provide the means for bees to survive and develop. If bees go well, we will do as well. Therefore, beekeepers need a clean environment. We all need a clean one. We need another agricultural model that promotes biodiversity and minimises practices that contribute to poison our environment. We are part of a globalized reality. Therefore, this change can only be achieved globally.

Moderators: Noa Simon (Centre Apicole de Recherche et Information), Thomas Radetzki (Mellifera), Walter Haefeker (President European Association of beekeepers)

Presentation_Walter Haefeker

Presentation_Thomas Radetzki


9: Upcoming seed legislation

The EU Commission’s DG SANCO is presently drafting the proposal for a new legislation on the marketing of seed and propagating material. This legislation is aiming to rule the exchanges of seeds. Whereas the final proposal is intended to be presented to the European Parliament and to the European Council at the end of the year / beginning 2013, a first draft of the proposal has been sent to stakeholders and member states. Until this day, agricultural biodiversity as well as consumers and farmers interests have been neglected by the present seed legislation and its specific rules on conservation varieties. Seed savers, small farmers and the organic sector will present the problems occurred by the present seed legislation and what must change and be taken into account in the new one.

Moderators: Antje Kölling (IFOAM EU), Gebhard Rossmanith (Bingenheimer Saatgut, EcoPB), Guy Kastler (Réseau Semences Paysannes, Via Campesina), Pierre Sultana (Arche Noah)

Presentation_Position paper of organic breeders in Europe

10: Revolving Doors and Conflict Interests

According to recent events like Mrs Banati’case joining ILSI after been obliged to leave heading board of directors in EFSA,, industry's advisory groups are dominated by corporate representatives. Industry experts and corporate lobbyists have effectively captured key areas of policy advice within the European Commission especially about GMO’s issues in EFSA and DG Sanco. To exchange about state of play, need of transparency, construction of decision policy and an EU common level framework in interest conflicts, join us at 6

Moderators: Michel Dupont (Greens/EFA group), Nina Holland (Corporate Europe Observatory)

11: Cisgenesis and other 'new' GE technologies

What is so new about the New Plant Breeding Technologies such as cisgenesis, zink finger nuclease and all the other GE techniques? Currently industries are developing those technics to avoid GMO legislation and policymakers are assessing if the risk analysis for GMO's should be lifted for these techniques, but what are the risks? What would the effects be for the freedom of choice for European farmers and consumers who want to remain free from GE? What would be the intellectual property rights regime associated to those technics ? Can civil society keep on opposing each of those technics as it did with transgenesis ? In this workshop we go in to the specific technologies, EU environmental and food safety regulations and the corporate control over our foods and seeds. Prepare for some scientific insights but also what you can do about it."

Moderators: Herman van Bekkem (Greenpeace), Eric Meunier (Inf'OGM)

Presentation_Eric Meunier

16:00-19:00 Countries beyond Europe

12: What’s going on in North America?

This workshop will provide a summary view of recent developments in the explosion of superweeds and increased chemical use associated with GM crops, U.S. Legislation (including the "Monsanto" riders to the Farm Bill and Agriculture Appropriations Bill), GMO labeling initiatives, legal challenges, and regulatory policies. It will also touch upon seed consolidation and industry strategy during this politically volatile period as twenty new GM crops are awaiting USDA approval—including 2, 4D-resistant and dicamba-resistant soybeans.

Related link: Yes on Prop 37

Moderators: Debbie Barker (Center for Food Safety), Kim Dault (CA Label GMOs Ballot Initiative Campaign)

13: GM crops- the real story from India and China

Together China and India form the largest producers and consumer of all the major crops in the world. The Agricultural policies in these countries have overarching impacts across the globe. Hence it is important to know what is happening with GM crops in China and India. Bt cotton, the only crop which is permitted for commercial cultivation in India, was approved in March 2002. We will trace the history of Bt cotton and also present a macro analysis of the agronomic aspects [yields, pesticide usage and input costs] in the last 10 years of Bt cotton. The debate around GM crops in India was the loudest around the approval process of Bt Brinjal. We will talk about the different aspects of this debate and the how the final outcome of an indefinite moratorium on Bt Brinjal happened. We will also bring forth the latest debate on regulatory system for GMOs in India. Plus a brief overview of the GM crop scenario in China with specific focus on GM rice.

Related links:
- How will the world react if India says no to GE food? (Greenpeace)
- Cultivation of GM food crops - Prospects and Effects (37th report LOK SABHA Secretariat New Delhi)

Moderators: Rajesh Krishnan (Greenpeace), Sreedevi Lakshmi Kutty (Coalition for GM free India)

Presentation_Rajesh Krishnan and Sreedevi Lakshmi Kutty

14: What is the situation in Japan on GM papaya

In December 2011, Japan approved import of genetically modified papaya from Hawaii. Japan may be known as the world’s biggest importer of GM crops, however consumers are very concerned about it, since this is the first time Japan approved a raw GM fruit for human consumption. Therefore we launched a market research of GM papaya in order to prevent the further distribution in Japan. Moreover, unapproved GM papaya was found growing in Okinawa, the southern Island of Japan. Papaya farmers in Okinawa were forced to cut down every papaya tree under the Act on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity through Regulations on the Use of Living Modified Organisms. The farmers incurred serious financial losses as a direct result of this unexpected incident. There are no GM crops commercially cultivated in Japan, however, there are several cases which illustrate that GM crops cultivation in other countries posed a serious threat to Japan.

Moderators: Michiyo Koketsu (Consumers Union of Japan), Chiaki Nishibun (NO! GMO Campaign)

Presentation_Michiyo Keketsu and Chiaki Nishibun

15: Argentina: Fatal Soya & The Mothers of Ituzaingó

For more than 10 years Sofia Gatica and Maria del Milagro Godoy have organized opposition to the aerial spraying of agrochemicals that threaten human health and the environment in rural Argentina. They co-founded The Mothers of Ituzaingó and their efforts led to the first trial against a soy-producer and the pilot of a spraying-plane. In this workshop they will be sharing their experiences. From Paraguay, Elias Diaz Peña and Isidoro Gonzalez will briefly introduce the work of Sobrevivencia – Friends of the Earth Paraguay to protect rural communities from the threat of soy expansion, and the inspiring example of La Pastora, who are developing Paraguay’s first ever rural land-use plan.

Link: "Speakers Tour with Sofia Gatica and Maria del Milagro Godoy" 5th - 19th September 2012

Moderators: Volker Gehrmann (Save Our Seeds) Sofia Gatica (Madres de Ituzaingó), Maria del Milagro Godoy (Madres de Ituzaingó), Isidoro Gonzalez (Committee in Defence of the Environment of La Pastora), Elias Diaz Peña (Sobrevivencia – Friends of the Earth Paraguay)

Presentation_Sofía Gatica and María Godoy

Map of illnesses documented in the neighbourhood

19:00 Grand opening plenary with organizers and guests

20:00 Dinner & drinks