In the Fields of Italy, a Conflict Over Corn
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
Published: August 23, 2010
"Giorgio Fidenato declared war on the Italian government and environmental groups in April with a news conference and a YouTube video, which showed him poking six genetically modified corn seeds into Italian soil.
In fact, said Mr. Fidenato, 49, an agronomist, he planted two fields of genetically modified corn. But since “corn looks like corn,” as he put it, it took his opponents weeks to find his crop.
The seeds, known as MON810, are modified so that the corn produces a chemical that kills the larvae of the corn borer, a devastating pest. Yet while European Union rules allow this particular seed to be planted, Italy requires farmers to get special permission for any genetically modified, or G.M., crop — and the Agriculture Ministry never said yes.
...It is true that a small but growing number of European countries, including Spain, Portugal and Germany, now allow some cultivation of genetically modified crops. But only two genetically modified seeds (MON810 and the Amflora potato seed) out of dozens on the global market have made it through the European Commission’s laborious approval process, a prerequisite for use.
...Such foot-dragging reflects passionate public opposition to the crops in many parts of Europe, even as more than three-quarters of corn, soybeans and sugar beets in the United States are genetically modified. Though the science is at best inconclusive, there is a widespread conviction in Italy that genetically altered foods and crops pose dangers to human health and ecosystems."
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Image courtesy of Grain.org.