Scottish crofters welcomed 150 delegates from all over Europe to a two-day conference at Strathpeffer to defend seed saving as an integral part of farming. “We will defend our seeds and breeds as well as our local food system,” declared Scottish Crofting Federation spokesman Norman Leask. “The gathering of these people in Strathpeffer was a gathering of hearts and of a strong spirit that will defend our rights and traditions and strengthen our opposition to GMOs.”
The Shetland crofter was addressing delegates who had travelled from as far afield as Hungary, Romania, Senegal and Tunisia to attend the seventh Let’s Liberate Diversity forum. The message from all over Europe was that locally-evolved seed strains are better adapted to feeding local populations than any biotech marketing offensive.
“We see no place for GMO-based high-risk farming in our food system,” said Patrick Mulvany, chair of the UK Food Group, one of the organisers of the conference. “Most food in the world is grown and consumed locally in production systems that are not dependent on agrochemicals and not dependent on GM seeds, which are controlled by corporations as intellectual property,” he explained.
“To secure our future food, we want to defend our productive food system and food sovereignty based on farmers’ own biodiverse and resilient seeds,” he expanded. Throughout the weekend, this message was expressed in many ways.
“GMOs not only threaten our farmers’ rights to use, save, exchange and sell our seeds but also threaten the biodiversity on our farms, essential for sustaining food production,” said Andrea Ferrante, for the European Coordination Via Campesina. “We are very concerned that the EU Council still has not found a solution that will allow member states to ban GMOs as the majority of farmers and consumers want.”
Other speakers to this theme included Dr Zsuzsanna Bardocz, wife of Arpad Puztai, the sidelined Rowett Research Institute scientist, who blew the whistle on the dangers of eating GM crops. Dr Bardocz brought a message from the Hungarian rural affairs minister pronouncing Hungary’s opposition to GMOs in food and agriculture.
Dave Thompson, the Scottish National Party (SNP) member of the Scottish Parliament for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, reaffirmed the Scottish government’s opposition to GMOs. He emphasised that the Scottish government opposes GM food and [animal] feed in Scotland. Thompson did not expect to see that changing.
The message to the UK corporations, institutions, organisations and government that are trying to soften up the British public to accept GM food and animal feeds was a resounding “No!”
Will this need to become a part of the Scottish independence vote to be counted in the referendum? It may depend on just how well the message is heard in Westminster the first time round.