. The Spanish government has released the information outside legal timeframes, when the majority of the tests had been finished. The open air tests of GMO crops present raised environmental and health risks. Knowing the numerous cases of GMO contamination around the world, civil society organisations request that the Spanish Government be more transpareny and rigorous with regards to these GMO crops.
Spain has become the home of GMO tests by multinationals given that the Spanish Government hides the fields’ exact locations, with 67% of all GMO tests in Europe being conducted in Spain . The country is also the chosen location for the British company Oxitec for the first open air test of GM bugs, despite its authorisation still pending .
Whilst the rest of Europe publishes this information on official websites, the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment has hidden this information for many years. “Transparency is paramount for us to be able to have a serious debate on the use of GM crops. By providing information too late, the government is not complying with the Aarhus Convention, nor with the access to environmental information law” affrimed Victoria Anderica of Access Info Europe.
80% of the requests to do tests in Spain are made by multinational companies, with the company Bayer leading with 16 requests, followed by Monsanto and KWS each with 6 requests. “Bayer as much as Monsanto have a know history of contamination scandals: in 2006 Bayer rice invaded the food chain, this year it has been the turn of Monsanto, responsible for contaminating wheat which turned the world wheat market upside down last summer” added Blanca Ruibal from Friends of the Earth Spain.
The majority of the tests requested in 2012 and 2013 by biotechnical companies have taken place in unknown locations of the Castilla y León region, many with genetically modified beetroot. “The harvesting of beetroot is very important in this region/ Farmers do not want GM beetroot tests because if they contaminate our harvests, we would have serious problems selling our produce“, confirmed Prisciliano Losada, Technical Secretary of COAG Castilla y León.
The risk of contamination is very high in the case of beetroot as it is a plant whose pollen can spread over large distances. Although it is not yet native, there exist invasive populations of beetroot in many zones .
“GM crops do not benefit the land. A living rural community is only possible with an agriculture that is respectful of the environment, is diverse, and on a small scale. GMO crops represent the model opposite, as the yonly benfit big multinational companies whilst agricultural workers are forced to abandon their fields” added Jerónimo Aguado of Plataforma Rural.
The civil society organisations also denounce the absense of information from the Offices of Agricultre of the Autonomous Communities in Spain that are in charge of allowing test fields in their regions. Its management is the just as opaque as the central government. The organisations demand that in accordance with the law, this information should be published directly by the government.
For more information:
Teresa Rodríguez Pierrard, Amigos de la Tierra Press +34 680 936 327
Blanca Ruibal, Amigos de la Tierra Food and Agriculture Officer +34 691 471 389
Jerónimo Aguado, Rural worker, Representantive of Plataforma Rural +34 609 475 897
Victoria Anderica, Legal Researcher and Campaigner, Access Info Europe +34 606 592 976
Prisciliano Losada, Technical Secretary of COAG Castilla y León +34 618 758 520
JuanMa González, Representantive of Red de Semillas. +34 618 676 116
Notes: List of the requested test in 2012 and 2013 produced by MAGRAMA http://www.tierra.org/spip/IMG/pdf/LOC_Y_SUP_LIB_VOL_2011_2013_SOLICIT_CULTIVOS.pdf
Map with exact locations of test fields https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zqGOJ-nJlwiU.kqomQHBPB-f4 Amigos de la Tierra Press Release “El 67% de los experimentos con transgénicos al aire libre de la UE se realizan en España” Amigos de la Tierra Press Release “Con la mosca (transgénica) detrás de la oreja: poca información y muchos riesgos” Numerous organisations Press Release “Nuevas evidencias científicas llaman la atención sobre la amenaza de los transgénicos para la biodiversidad y los cultivos”
Photo taken from Craig Nagy http://www.flickr.com/photos/89075592@N00/23219400