(NaturalNews) The industrial model of corporate agriculture that is now a mainstay of modern American food production -- and a major cause of environmental pollution and widespread illness -- is spreading like a deadly virus into eastern Europe, where new draconian regulatory standards in the country of Poland threaten to eliminate the heritage of farming practices that have sustained the country's millions of small-scale family farmers, and their loyal customers, for centuries.
According to The Ecologist, the Polish government is right now trying to enforce oppressive new sanitary standards for food production that make it near-impossible for local food producers to grow and sell their goods in local shops and restaurants, which they have done for many years without issue. Countless small- and medium-scale Polish farmers are effectively being barred from the food market entirely due to these regulations, as only the largest food producers in Poland will be financially able to comply with the new rules.
Polish government reserves prime farmland for corporate agriculture at expense of small farmers
At the same time, Poland's Land Agency is restricting access to prime, government-owned farmland, leaving it only for large producers and potentially even multinational biotechnology corporations, which have been aggressively pushing to introduce genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into Europe and Asia -- growing GMOs is currently illegal in Poland. This one-two punch against food freedom has forced many Polish farmers to go on the offensive, as they are now having to band together to demand reprieve from this tyranny.
According to the latest reports, hundreds of Polish farmers have been staging around-the-clock protests and blockades in the city of Szczecin, located in the West Pomerania Province where the Land Agency facility is situated, since January. Farmers from across the country have literally been driving their tractors into town and blocking major thoroughfares to draw as much attention as possible to the issue.
"[T]housands of hectares of prime farmland have been put on the market over the past few years - undermining rentee Polish farmers' ability to expand their family farming enterprises and secure the long-term viability of their businesses," write Julian Rose and Jadwiga Lopata for The Ecologist about the issue.
Polish food staples to become illegal under restrictive new policies
Besides the threat of unwelcome GMOs, Polish farmers are outraged that their government would attempt to eliminate the country's family farmers, the bread and butter of Poland's agricultural system, from the general food market. Common Polish foods like smoked hams, sour cabbage, raw milk, freshly baked bread, pickles and artisan cheeses are all on the chopping block, as the new regulations practically render these foods illegal unless they are produced by major conglomerates.
"At a recent farmers' blockade the table was laid out with a wide range of 'illegal foods' that represented virtually all Poland's most popular and renowned farm products," add Rose and Lopata. "[A]ll foods that do not comply with regulations requiring farmers to carry out any processing operations in specially constructed premises that are not affordable to any but the largest farms supplying the supermarket trade."
You can watch a video of this protest here: YouTube.com.
Help support Polish food freedom by urging Prime Minister Tusk to abolish new regulations
Onboard with the effort to restore food freedom in Poland is the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside (ICPPC), an advocacy group that supports a decentralized, noncorporate model of farming. The group recently helped organize a protest at the Polish Embassy in London on February 20, at which the farming coalition made its collective voice heard. The same is taking place all across northern Poland.
"Since January 2014, over 200 farmers using tractor convoys have been protesting in Northern Polish towns in order to highlight their demands for a change to laws undermining their traditional way of life," explains a recent ICPPC press release. "Their major demands are: to end foreign corporate buy-outs of prime Polish farmland; to enforce the ban of GM crop planting and to end the criminalisation of farmhouse food sales which they claim to be the most repressive in the European Union."
You can help support these efforts to preserve the Polish farming tradition by writing to Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk, pressing him to annul the oppressive regulations and restore the freedom of Poland's family farmers to grow and sell their goods freely without consequence.