NEWS

‘Genetically modified crops shall not pass,’ Thessalians say clearly

A prefabricated world, with adulterated raw materials and a drastic degradation of the farmer’s role, would be the outcome if biotechnology were to take over agriculture, according to the Thessalian Network of Organizations and Citizens. Responding to prevailing views among supporters of genetically modified products, members of the network inveigh against the narrow focus on profit which takes into account neither the drop in product quality nor the danger of contamination of other crops. Its avowed aim is to wage a struggle to keep Thessaly free of GM crops. The negative effects of cultivating GM crops, the network points out, would take entire decades to become manifest, as was the case when the unbridled pursuit of profit led to bovines being fed meat-derived meal, resulting in mad cow disease. In its announcement, the network points out that American producers of genetically modified organisms have given an eloquent answer to the main argument in support of GM products – that they boost production. It is refusing to renew its contracts with the companies producing and selling genetically modified seed since the increase in production has decreased product quality, resulting in lower sales prices, and by extension, a drop in income. An even greater danger, however, as was demonstrated by The Royal Company in the UK, is the contamination of other crops, even many kilometers away, by wind-blown pollen. Numerous questions have yet to be answered about GM crops, and the champions of the genetically altered products do not appear to have them. Who will pay for the cost of safeguarding neighboring crops, and fork out damages in the event of contamination? Who will protect producers’ rights to know what they are producing, and those of consumers to know what they are buying? Especially in Thessaly, the possible cultivation of genetically modified corn, potato and sugar beet will threaten wheat production, fruit and vegetable growers, organic crop growers and vintners and place in danger all secondary produce, such as flour and pasta, cereals, animal feed and meat products, feta and other dairy products, Thessalian wine and olive oil. Naturally enough, the danger entailed by the cultivation of GM crops in Thessaly – or anywhere else for that matter – deprives producers of the right to use their own seeds and varieties, and to certify their traditional or organic products with controlled appellations of origin, thus robbing Greece of its comparative advantage on the international market. Thessalian bodies spell it out clearly: «GM products shall not pass.»