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Home / News and events / Press Releases / ECVC supports Associazione rurale italiana in its fight to keep Italy GMO-free, as Italian Government authorises field test for NGT1 rice

ECVC supports Associazione rurale italiana in its fight to keep Italy GMO-free, as Italian Government authorises field test for NGT1 rice

3 June 2024

On 14 May 2024, after a ban of more than 20 years, Italy authorised an open field test of genetically modified rice ‘Ris8imo’(i) in Mezzana Bigli, in the province of Pavia. As denounced by Italian member of ECVC Associazione rurale italiana (ARI) in a press release, Italy is therefore no longer a GMO-free guaranteed country.

GMO field testing and cultivation has been effectively banned in Italy since 2001, thanks to significant mobilisation by peasants’ organisations and civil society since the 1980s. However, in 2022, the Italian Parliament used a resolution on Ukraine to call for the ‘use new genetic technologies dedicated to plants to increase their productivity’. Afterwards, the Meloni Government formally authorised this test, via a decree on Drought. In spite of this, the vast majority of Italians remain opposed to genetically modified foods, and 15 of Italy’s 18 regions declare themselves ‘GMO-free’. No information campaigns or public debates have been organised in Italy to inform and consult the population and regions on this subject. On the contrary, the Government continues to conceal the reality, referring to NGT products by the term ‘assisted evolution techniques’ (tecniche di evoluzione assistita (TEA)), which is intended to deceive Italian consumers who refuse to buy GMOs.

In addition, Italy took this test one step ahead of Brussels, stating that ‘the modification was made by genome editing (category NGT-1)’, thus referring to the category ‘new genomic technique (NGT) 1’ proposed by the European Commission in its draft deregulation of GMOs obtained by NGTs, a proposal which has not yet been adopted. In addition, the categorisation "NGT1", which would make it possible to disseminate certain NGT plants without risk assessment or traceability, has been strongly criticised by several national agencies(ii) for its lack of scientific validity. ECVC strongly condemns the use of this NGT1 category by the Italian authorities, given that negotiations on the proposal to deregulate NGTs are currently blocked at the level of the Council of the EU, in particular because of the risks and concerns linked to the patent model, the impossibility of maintaining coexistence with GMO-free agriculture and finally the impossibility for a country to continue to be guaranteed ‘GMO-free’.

In addition, after on-the-spot checks, it was found that the isolation measures of the test field do not fully comply with the requirements imposed for this type of experiment, under the Italian legislation in force. Finally, no risk assessment has been carried out for this field test and the potential cultivation that could result from it, neither in terms of the health and environmental impacts, nor concerning the economic damage caused to sectors such as organic farming, controlled designations of origin and geographical indications, or even to the economically flourishing activity of the multiplication of certified seeds(iii), which nevertheless represent a substantial part of the Italian agricultural economy.

ECVC fully supports ARI and all organisations fighting for Italy to remain a GMO/NGT-free country, for the rights of farmers and people to produce and consume without GMOs, and for food sovereignty.

i) The rice is genetically modified to develop resistance to a fungal disease (pyriculariasis). The test was authorised with notification B/IT/24/01. ii) ANSES in France, BfN in Germany. iii) Italy is the second country in the European Union in terms of multiplication of certified seeds, which belong almost exclusively to agricultural species.

Press release - EN

Comunicado - ES

Communiqué - FR

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