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Anti-GMO Struggle, Portugal


Description

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

NameAnti-GMO Struggle, Portugal
CountryPortugal
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level

Source of Conflict

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

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsThe 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
Potential Affected Populationall the Portuguese citizens
Start Date01/01/1999
Company Names or State EnterprisesMonsanto Corporation (Monsanto Co) from United States of America
Relevant government actorsMinistério da Agricultura, Câmaras Municipais, Associações de Municipios, Direções Regionais de Agricultura, governos regionais
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAutarquias 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)

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment 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

Impacts

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
OtherStudies indicate liver and kidney deficiencies and hormonal deregulation resulting of GMO corn consumption.
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Institutional changes
Repression
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Development of AlternativesGiving 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 as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

Legislations

regula o cultivo de variedades geneticamente modificadas, visando assegurar a sua coexistência com culturas convencionais e com o modo de produção biológico
http://www.cna.pt/dossiers/dossierogms/n_decretolei160_21set05.pdf

Portaria nº 1611/2007 de 20-12-2007. Regula o estabelecimento e zonas livres de transgênicos em Portugal
http://bdjur.almedina.net/item.php?field=node_id&value=1282795

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.
http://www.iapmei.pt/iapmei-leg-03.php?lei=1680

References

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.
https://repositorioaberto.uab.pt/bitstream/10400.2/1872/1/Disserta%C3%A7%C3%A3o%20Mestrado.pdf

Eurobarometer about perception of GMO by the european citizens
ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_341_en.pdf

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service–Grain Report: Global agriculture information network. Portugal: Biotechnology Annual, 8 Abr. 2013
http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Recent%20GAIN%20Publications/Portugal%20Biotech%20Standing%20Report_Madrid_Portugal_6-19-2012.pdf.

SILVA, Margarida. Portuguese GMO FREE Coalition. Power Point, 24 Abr. 2009
http://www.gmo-free-regions.org/fileadmin/files/gmo-free-regions/Portugal/Silva_24_4_Portugal_n_GMO_ppt_en.pdf.

PRICE Project (Practical

Implementation of Coexistence in Europe), Portugal
http://price-coexistence.com/page/downloads/Supply_chain_of_maize_bread_in_Portugal.pdf

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.
http://www.repository.utl.pt/bitstream/10400.5/6981/1/Dissertação%20JAMP_Definitiva.pdf

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ARRUDA, Lúcia. Os OGM nos Açores e as contradições a nu. Bloco de Esquerda Açores. Opinião, 21 mai. 2012.
http://www.diariodosacores.pt/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1336:os-ogm-nos-acores-e-as-contradicoes-a-nu&catid=24&Itemid=150

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PTF. Glifosato: O herbicida que contamina Portugal. Plataforma Trasngénicos Fora-PTF, 29 ab. 2016.
https://www.stopogm.net/glifosato-herbicida-que-contamina-portugal

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TRANSGÉNICOS FORA. Mapa das explorações agrícolas de transgénicos. Trangénicos Fora, 10 jun. 2016.
https://www.stopogm.net/cultivos

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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.
http://www.environmentandsociety.org/arcadia/mobilization-against-genetically-modified-organisms-portugal

Links

AGÊNCIA LUSA. Activistas destroem um hectare de milho transgénico. Jornal Público, 17 Ago. 2007.
http://www.publico.pt/local/noticia/activistas-destroem-um-hectare-de-milho-transgenico-em-silves-1302474

GMo free regions - Portugal
http://www.gmo-free-regions

News: embaixador norteamericano contesta possivel zona livre de transgenicos nos Açores
http://www.publico.pt/ciencia/noticia/embaixador-norteamericano-contesta-possivel-zona-livre-de-transgenicos-nos-acores-1528833

Plataforma Transgénicos Fora
http://stopogm.net

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News Article. STOPOGM. Glifosato: o herbicida que contamina Portugal. Stopogm.net. 29 abr. 2016.
https://www.stopogm.net/glifosato-herbicida-que-contamina-portugal

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News Article. DIÁRIO LIBERDADE. Portugal adere à marcha global contra Monsanto, 20 mai. 2016.
https://www.diarioliberdade.org/portugal/resenhas/48602-portugal-adere-à-marcha-global-contra-a-monsanto.html

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News Article. TSF. Governo vai proibir glifosato em espaços públicos. 6 jul 2016.
https://www.tsf.pt/sociedade/ambiente/interior/governo-vai-proibir-glifosato-em-espacos-publicos-5268753.html

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TOXIC BIOS. A guerrilla narrative project.
http://www.toxicbios.eu/#/stories

Media Links

Danger of GMO
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Z6-fK875nM

Movimento Verde Eufemia - GMO mowing Action @ Silves, Portugal
https://archive.org/details/Desobedienciaogm-en_xvid2000c500

Açores protests
http://videos.sapo.pt/7QJN6MwafF6OZa71Jd87

GMO - how to recognize
http://rr.sapo.pt/informacao_detalhe.aspx?fid=94&did=116878

Silves action
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuwkGCH2ZQw

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PAeM – Vídeos sobre o Glifosato
http://www.ambientemovimento.org/vdeos-glifosato

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PAeM – Milho transgênico em Silves, Algarve
http://www.ambientemovimento.org/vdeo-milho-transgnico

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PAeM – Zona Livre dos Transgénico dos Açores
http://www.ambientemovimento.org/videos-zona-livre-dos-acores

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PAeM – Vídeos sobre Transgénicos em Portugal
http://www.ambientemovimento.org/vdeos-tema-transgenicos

Other Documents

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Other CommentsThe 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

ContributorInês Ribeiro, Lays Silva and Lúcia Fernandes
Last update29/03/2018

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