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New Decree in Wallonia (Belgium) - June 2008

Thursday 3 July 2008

 

Since the regionalization of agriculture, Wallonia developed an agricultural policy based on the protection of a family type agriculture, offering high quality products, with a high added value. Organic farming is naturally a part of the system… But the scope of the risks of irreversible disseminations of genetically modified plants is a fact that nobody can deny any longer. The new Walloon decree had to take this into account. The law adopted by the Government makes provisions for the following points (among others):

  • A declaration obligation for anyone who intends to grow a plot of genetically modified plants within the Walloon territory and to request a registration with the competent authority; the precise location of the potential fields will be publicly known. Furthermore, the GMO producer will have to notify all his farmer neighbours of his intention to grow such crops and more specifically the farmers with whom he shares machines and equipment, as well as the landowner.
  • The isolation of the plot will have to be rigorously organized: precise distances from organic crops will be specified, and the same applies to all the other conventional crops. It will also be forbidden to grow plants of the same species in the area. 
  • The growing conditions will also be defined, from the sowing to the storage of the harvests, with a view to prevent any contamination from the GMO fields towards the neighbouring fields. 
  • Farmers who have decided to grow GMOs will have to contribute to a fund, with a view to compensate farmers who could lose money following an accidental contamination. Therefore the polluter-payer principle will be applied! A sanction system that makes provisions for uprooting the plots of the offenders, among other things, will also be set up.

Finally the Walloon decree also makes provisions to define GMO-free areas for farmers who want to do so. 

This decree is absolutely unique at European level!

Of course, the enforcement orders – which still need to be written – will  specify the measures provided in the decree.