ISIS Report 11/07/11
Nijmegen Declared GM-Free through Citizen Action
A model local initiative for banning GMOs Dr. Mae-Wan
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The Community Council of Nijmegen declared the
city GM-free on 29 June 2011 . This is only the third GM-free region
after Culemborg and the province of Friesland
in the Netherlands, a country in close
competition with the UK for the most pro-GM national government in Europe.
In both Culemborg and Friesland, the
initiative came from the Netherlands green party, GroenLinks. In Nijmegen,
however, it came from a group of citizens that started in 2009 to raise
awareness on GM food and agriculture. The group, “Citizens for GE-free food”
came up with a Citizens' Initiative for a GM-free Nijmegen. Nijmegen is a city
of 164 000 inhabitants and requires 100 signatures to put an issue on the
agenda of the Community Council. The group collected 4 000 signatures and
handed in their Initiative to the Community Councilin April 2010.The
Initiative requested the Community Council to tackle the issue in four steps as
1. Make a statement
in the press declaring the city GM-free, referring to the citizens' objections
listed in the initiative, and send the statement to the national government and
the national parliament.
2. Get legal advice
on the options available to local authorities within the framework of the EU
Directive 2001/18, to protect regular and organic agriculture from undesired
3. Communicate the
citizens' concerns on GMO safety to companies wishing to start field trials
within the community.
Draw up a formal Note on Sustainability setting out a
community policy based on more than just the national guidelines on
sustainability and including the notion “GM-free”.
After intensive lobbying by the group and two
debates in the Council, a 23 to 16 majority of the Council voted in favour of
accepting the Citizens' Initiative. The green party, the socialist party, the Social
Democrats and the United Senior Party voted in favour; the liberals, the
Christian democrats, the Liberal Democrats (D66) and two local parties voted
against. The decision went against an earlier advice by the city’s mayor and
aldermen to reject the Initiative.
ISIS submitted a letter in support of the
Initiative stating succinctly why rejecting GMOs for organic agro-ecological
farming is urgently needed to save the climate and feed the world, and this should
apply in general to all similar initiatives around the world  (Letter in
Support of Citizens’ Initiative for GM-Free Nijmegen, SiS 51).
The group will now continue to advise the Nijmegen
Council in carrying out the four points of the Initiative.
1. “Dutch city of
Nijmegen GE-free”, Diederick Sprangers, Genethics Foundation, 30 June 2011, http://www.gmwatch.eu/latest-listing/1-news-items/13294-gm-free-nijmegen-and-new-south-wales.
2. Ho MW. Letter in
support of citizen’s initiative for GM-free Nijmegen. Science in Society 51 (to
There are 1 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
|Trina Paulus Comment left 11th July 2011 17:05:18|
This news is especially welcome, as The Grail international woman's movement to which I belong began at the University of Nijmegen in 1921. It will be a pleasure to share this link around the world to encourage like measures in our own towns and cities.