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Anti-GMO Struggle, Portugal


In 2003, a law authorizing the cultivation of certain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Portugal was passed.

In 2004, Algarve was the first region of the country to be declared a GMO-free zone. Sixteen municipalities in the region are part of the zone. The campaign was organized by the Associação de Municípios do Algarve (AMAL, or the Association of Municipalities of the Algarve region).

In 2005, another law was adopted to allow genetically modified varieties to coexist with conventional crops and the production of organic food. Several groups question this coexistence because of the risk of cross-contamination.

It was only in 2007 that a decree authorizing the creation of GMO-free zones by farmers' decisions or a municipal initiative was issued. The decree stipulates, however, that the decision to establish a GMO-free zone must be approved by an absolute majority of the members present at a local municipal assembly. While these decisions are not binding, but they are an important tool for fighting GMOs.

In 2007, the existence of a plantation of genetically modified corn grown by Monsanto in Herdade da Lameira, Silves, in the Algarve region was denounced. AMAL and the Association for the Defense of the Cultural and Environmental Heritage of Algarve (ALMARGEM) took a stance against this kind of crop. On August 17, 2007, about 150 people from the Movimento Verde Eufémia travelled to Herdade da Lameira to protest and destroyed the GMO cornfield of approximately 50 hectares. A representative of the Bloco de Esquerda (BE, Left Block party) and environmental associations voiced their support for the action, declaring that even though they do not agree with the Movement Verde Eufémia's tactics, they recognized the need to discuss and resist GMOs in Portugal. Even though the action was criticized and criminalized by the national press, it did help highlight the need to discuss the issue of GMOs in the country.

The No GMOs Coalition has been working on this issue since 1999. It is composed of associations and environmental groups. Its actions include activist workshops, protests, participation in the public consultations and meetings, publicly questioning government actions and decisions, organizing information sessions, lectures, conferences, awareness campaigns and debates with the population and the public administration, the dissemination of research results, interventions in schools and universities, and communicating with farmers, supermarkets and consumers that produce and consume GMOs, etc. In 2013, for example, it organized a visit to the ten largest Portuguese hypermarkets in the cities of Lisbon and Porto to assess the supply of food products containing GMOs and the information available to consumers.

In Portugal, the main actions related to the production, import and consumption of GMOs are: activities to combat the spread of GMO corn plantations and provide information on these crops; boycotts of GMO foods; support for the "free seeds" campaign in coordination with the broader European movement; opposition to transnational corporations’ monopoly over seeds; fight against and warn people about the use of herbicides in public places and the increasing use of herbicides containing glyphosate.

Several municipalities in the Algarve region and another 27 municipalities in Europe were declared GMO-free zones in 2011. In 2012, the islands of Madeira and Azores also declared themselves GMO-free zones.

In 2015, data on GMO plantations in Portugal in 2014 showed that Algarve (an official GMO-free zone) is the region in the country with the smallest area of land used to grow GMOs, whereas Alentejo has the biggest.

Concerned with the increase in the use of glyphosate in Portugal, in March 2014, environmental organizations and the No GMO Coalition sent a letter to all mayors in the country to warn them of the risks of the use of herbicides in urban spaces to the environment and health.

Tests carried out in April 2016 by the No GMO Coalition in collaboration with the Detox Project found high levels of glyphosate in the urine of 26 Portuguese volunteers and some food samples.

On December 27, 2017, the European Commission renewed the license of glyphosate for a five-year period after a scientific study concluded that there was no connection between glyphosate and cancer. The measure was approved by 18 EU member states; Portugal abstained from the vote.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Anti-GMO Struggle, Portugal
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Biopiracy and bio-prospection
Specific commodities:Corn/Maize
Genetically Modified Seeds Gm Maize Mon810

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The main variety cultivated is GM maize MON810 (Monsanto) .

– In 2007: 4199 ha of MON 810 out of a total of 116 700 ha of maize 3.6%

– In 2008: 15% increase to 4839 ha

Type of populationRural
Affected Population:all the Portuguese citizens
Start of the conflict:01/01/1999
Company names or state enterprises:Monsanto Corporation (Monsanto Co) from United States of America
Relevant government actors:Ministério da Agricultura, Câmaras Municipais, Associações de Municipios, Direções Regionais de Agricultura, governos regionais
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Autarquias Sem Glifosato
Associação de Agricultura Biológica (Agrobio)
Associação de Defesa do Ambiente (Gê-Questa)
Associação Ecológica Amigos dos Açores
Associação Nacional de Conservação da Natureza (Quercus)
Defesa do Património Cultural e Ambiental do Algarve (ALMARGEM)
Fundo para a Proteção dos Animais Selvagens (FAPAS)
Grupo de Ação e Intervenção Ambiental (GAIA)
Grupo de Estudos de Ordenamento do Território e Ambiente (Geota)
Movimento Pró-Informação para Cidadania e Ambiente
Movimento Verde Eufémia
Liga de Proteção da Natureza (LPN)
Plataforma Transgénicos Fora (PTF)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Boycotts of companies-products


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Air pollution, Genetic contamination, Global warming, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Soil erosion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Infectious diseases, Malnutrition, Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impactsStudies indicate liver and kidney deficiencies and hormonal deregulation resulting of GMO corn consumption.
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Institutional changes
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:Giving information and to discuss about the implications of production and consumption of GMOs aiming to boycott the non-conscious consumption of GMOs.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Even though it is possible to produce and consume GMOs in Portugal, the pressing movements and protests made possible to have a little more control over what happens or at least more transparency (although it´s still a very closed process).

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

regula o cultivo de variedades geneticamente modificadas, visando assegurar a sua coexistência com culturas convencionais e com o modo de produção biológico

Decreto-Lei n.72/2003 de 10-04, transpôs a Directiva Europeia n. 2001/18/CE relativa à libertação deliberada no ambiente de organismos geneticamente modificados.

Portaria nº 1611/2007 de 20-12-2007. Regula o estabelecimento e zonas livres de transgênicos em Portugal

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

VIEIRA, Luís Miguel Teixeira. Dissertação de Mestrado em Cidadania Ambiental E Participação Não-Violência Activa Movimentos Ambientais e a Mobilização Social em Portugal A Não-Violência Activa como Método de Participação Social Ambiental Estudo de Caso–O Caso do Milho Transgénico de Silves. Universidade Aberta, Lisboa, 2011.

Eurobarometer about perception of GMO by the european citizens

SILVA, Margarida. Portuguese GMO FREE Coalition. Power Point, 24 Abr. 2009

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service–Grain Report: Global agriculture information network. Portugal: Biotechnology Annual, 8 Abr. 2013

PRICE Project (Practical

Implementation of Coexistence in Europe), Portugal

PONTE, João André Moniz (2014) A Cadeia de Abastecimento da Broa de Milho em Portugal e a Aplicação das Leis de Coexistência, Dissertação de mestrado em Engenharia Agronómica, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade de Lisboa.ção%20JAMP_Definitiva.pdf


ARRUDA, Lúcia. Os OGM nos Açores e as contradições a nu. Bloco de Esquerda Açores. Opinião, 21 mai. 2012.


TRANSGÉNICOS FORA. Mapa das explorações agrícolas de transgénicos. Trangénicos Fora, 10 jun. 2016.


PTF. Glifosato: O herbicida que contamina Portugal. Plataforma Trasngénicos Fora-PTF, 29 ab. 2016.


BENTO, Sofia; FERNANDES, Lúcia de Oliveira; SILVA, Lays Helena Paes e; BRÁS, Oriana Rainho. Mobilization against Genetically Modified Organisms in Portugal. Arcadia, Summer 2017, n. 23. Arcadia Collection: Global Environmental Movements. 2017.

AGÊNCIA LUSA. Activistas destroem um hectare de milho transgénico. Jornal Público, 17 Ago. 2007.

GMo free regions - Portugal

Plataforma Transgénicos Fora


News Article. TSF. Governo vai proibir glifosato em espaços públicos. 6 jul 2016.


News Article. STOPOGM. Glifosato: o herbicida que contamina Portugal. 29 abr. 2016.


TOXIC BIOS. A guerrilla narrative project.


News Article. DIÁRIO LIBERDADE. Portugal adere à marcha global contra Monsanto, 20 mai. 2016.à-marcha-global-contra-a-monsanto.html

News: embaixador norteamericano contesta possivel zona livre de transgenicos nos Açores

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Danger of GMO

Movimento Verde Eufemia - GMO mowing Action @ Silves, Portugal

GMO - how to recognize

Açores protests

Silves action


PAeM – Milho transgênico em Silves, Algarve


PAeM – Vídeos sobre Transgénicos em Portugal


PAeM – Vídeos sobre o Glifosato


PAeM – Zona Livre dos Transgénico dos Açores

Other comments:The GPS refers to center Portugal as this case refers to the anti-gmo sttrugle all over the country. Silves action GPS 37.195815 -8.440443

Meta information

Contributor:Inês Ribeiro, Lays Silva and Lúcia Fernandes
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1698