May 16, 2011

Organic Farming Advocates Come Together In Greece

Thousands of organic farming advocates in the remote valley of Mesohori in northeastern Greece are seeking to bar so-called "Frankenstein" foods from Europe.

An event organized by the Peliti alternative community created the annual seed exchange festival in order to address the issue.

"We are doing something important here," Grigoris Papadopoulos, a 60-year-old agronomist told AFP.

"I realized that money is not as important as quality of life, I saw the dirt in farm chemicals."

Peliti's drive to "collect, distribute and rescue traditional seed varieties" has drawn attention from organic farming proponents throughout Europe.

The continent is caught between strong popular opposition to GM foods and pressure from major American GM producers like Monsanto, who says that European bans on products like this are illegal.

The European Commission said in April that an internal EU survey found that half of the states see no benefit from genetically modified crops.

Greece is one of seven EU states that have stopped farming Monsanto's GM corn. 

Organizers said about 5,000 people showed up to the event, which was located about 435 miles from Athens.

Crowds visited tablets featuring varieties of food from the southern island of Crete to the northeastern region of Thrace.

"Around 4,000 plant types were distributed to organic growers and supporters from all over Greece but also from France, Germany, Turkey and the United States," Peliti founder Panagiotis Sainatoudis told AFP.

"Due to its microclimate and the lack of rain, Greece has 6,000 plant species -- half of what grows in Europe -- including 1,200 unique genetic variations."