Published: 12/06/2005 - Updated: 07/14/2016
Conclusions of the Conference of GMO-free Regions, Biodiversity and Rural Development in Europe.
The conference, which took place from 22nd-23rd January in Berlin, brought together 190 participants from 28 European countries. It concluded with the following statement:
Berlin Manifesto for GMO-free Regions and Biodiversity in Europe Our Earth, Our Future, Our Europe
European regions have the right to determine their own way to grow, eat, produce and sell food as well as protect its environment and landscape, its culture and heritage, its seeds, rural development, its future economic. This includes the right to decide on the use of plants and animals genetically modified (GM) in agriculture and
The fundamental right to choose what we eat is a good shared by all. The choice about the use of reproductive material in the common environment cannot be individual, since it affects all people who share these spaces. Decisions on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the appearance of our landscape should be taken democratically in the regions and not be imposed by individual farmers, bureaucrats and businesses. Decisions can be wrong and therefore should be reversed and could change.
Our seeds diversity of local seeds and traditional varieties and wild relatives represent the basis of a unique composition of flavors throughout the region and the heritage of a region. It is also the livelihood of new innovations and developments of seeds. Protecting and promoting the conservation and reproduction of native and locally adapted varieties and the continuity of the conservation of seeds by farmers is a duty and a right of influence over the regional agricultural policies.
Our agricultural diversity
Agriculture is an important part of our regional lifestyle. At the time of introducing agricultural technologies such as GMOs, we must take into account the socioeconomic and cultural impacts. The majority of European regions are promoting sustainable agriculture and eco-regional trade priorities for rural development. Where we cannot guarantee the right to grow GMO-free and without undue changes to farming practices, the introduction of GMOs should be avoided.
Our natural biodiversity
The configuration of the European environment and landscapes including protected areas, is the result of thousands of years of agriculture to man. The wealth of different landscapes, ecosystems and species should be protected by all who share this heritage. Preserving our biodiversity for the spread and introgression of GM varieties is itself a conservation objective.
Our security and precaution
Science can be wrong, but GM cannot be removed easily in case adverse effects occur. Therefore the regions have the right to apply the precautionary principle in relation to the release of GMOs.
Our food quality products and most Europeans do not want GM food. Respecting this will form part of the food sovereignty of the regions and is an important economic opportunity. Regional authorities should be able to protect the products certified for quality, purity standards, organic production and appellations of origin at competitive prices. It includes access to animal feed GM-free.
In most cases and for most species, it is unrealistic to think that there is a possibility of coexistence between agricultural biotechnology and agriculture without biotechnology, just as thinking that there may be noise and silence at a time in the same room. Stringent standards are applied to protect local crops and their wild relatives. The level of protection and coexistence criteria, including their costs, it must evaluate and decide on local and regional level. A just and sustainable coexistence should prevail between neighbors and economic partners should not be taxed beyond their traditional practices and their future development.
Diversity of regions form the identity of Europe. In a global economy, we need common European standards for food safety, transparency, accountability, environmental protection and nature and market access. These should be designed to serve and not to suppress the local and regional self-determination of European citizens. Defend these rights and duties and the beauty and charm of our regions across Europe.