250 representatives from 35 countries call for a GMO free Europe of the Regions

250 representatives of regional governments, provinces and municipalities, companies, farmers unions, consumer and environmental organisations and initiatives from 35 countries assembled in Berlin on January 14 - 15, 2006, for the 2nd conference on GMO free Regions, biodiversity and rural development. From Iceland to Cyprus, from Ireland to Armenia GMO-free Regions are mushrooming to defend regional selfdetermination, quality of food and life-styles, small scale and independent farming, biodiversity, health and environmental safety. 

The participants broadly rejected the European Union's concept of "co-existence" between cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and GMO-free agriculture as misleading and illusionary. They heard scientific evidence on GM contamination and flaws around the world, about national and regional legislation to prevent growing of GMOs and about successful business initiatives to source GMO-free animal feed. 

A former CEO of Monsanto Romania explained why he resigned over the introduction of GM soybeans in his country. The agricultural minister of Upper Austria presented his regions case against the EU Commission at the European Court of Justice. A representative of the Greek farmers union reported about its law suit against the gene-tech firms Pioneer and Syngenta. A vice president of the European Parliament's agricultural committee presented an initiative to defend the right to prohibit GM cultivation. Farmers from France and Poland reported, why courts deemed their direct actions against GM fields as legitimate self-defense.

Workshops were held on strategies to counter pressure from GM companies and the EU Commission to plant GM crops, and against the European Food Safety Authority's practice of rubberstamping new GMO applications. Other workshops deliberated on farmer oriented and region based agricultural research and innovation, and on the protection of free seed development and exchange from hybrids, patents and terminator technologies.

While the EU Commission had boycotted the meeting, participants were invited by the representative of the European Unions presidency (Austria) to participate in a major EU conference on GMOs in Vienna April 5 - 6, 2006.