MEPs fail to respond to campaign to keep Poland's countryside GM-free

Since December 4th 2006 more than 2,000 European citizens, including many from Poland, have written to all 42 members of the European Parliament's Agricultural and Rural Development Committee demanding to know why they are supporting the further spread of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in European farming. But instead of receiving answers, they are getting an automatic notice: "Message deleted without reading."

The reason for people's concern is a motion submitted by Finnish MEP Kyösti Virrankoski, currently being debated in the European Parliament, which strongly promotes the further development of GMO food and farming throughout Europe. So far, only two MEPs have rejected this motion and a few others have made some cosmetic changes. If this motion should be carried by the European Parliament, it would, Polish activists argue, open the floodgates for a GMO invasion of European food and farming.

A spokesperson for the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside (ICPPC) said that at the end of last year the group "initiated a campaign reminding MEPs that they are democratically elected and accountable for their actions. We asked them nine questions, including 'How many of your electorate have asked you to promote GMO food and agriculture?"

Only three MEPs have so far replied: Jeffrey Titford (UK) who claims to be against GMO; Ms Bernadette Bourzai (France) who has reservations and Mr Janusz Wojciechowski, the Polish vice chairman of the committee, who has fully rejected the Virrankoski motion, stating that he supports a
completely GMO free Europe.

"The refusal by the great majority of MEPs to even open the letters being sent to them, let alone answer the questions, exposes the shamefully irresponsible and undemocratic position being taken by elected European Parliamentarians, who appear to have forgotten that they are accountable to
their electorate," the spokesperson added

ICPPC President Sir Julian Rose said "MEPs who are putting the future health and welfare of all European citizens at risk by supporting genetically engineered food should voluntarily go onto a GMO diet to demonstrate their enthusiasm."

Poland banned the import and planting of GMO seeds and plants in 2006, and every province in Poland has declared itself a GMO Free Zone, joining other European GMO free regions (in total 174 regions and over 4500 smaller.