Originally published February 10 2015
Polish farmers protest to demand protection from multinational corporations, GMOs
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Polish farmers are staging peaceful protests such as blocking highways in order to win agricultural concessions from the government, including a ban on the cultivation and production of genetically modified seeds and foods.
As reported by the Land Workers Alliance, Polish farmers have four primary objectives:
-- The banning of GMOs from Polish agriculture;
-- Land rights -- The implementation of regulations to prevent so-called "land grabs" by Western corporations and to protect family farmers' land rights (beginning in 2016, foreign entities will be able purchase and own Polish land.
-- Legalize the direct sale of farm produce to the public -- Farmers want the Polish government to take actions that improve farmers' access to the market, including adopting laws that enable the direct sales of processed and unprocessed farm products, because currently Poland has some of the most exclusionary policies in Europe regarding on-farm processing of food products and direct sales.
-- Extend inheritance law to ensure land under lease is a fully legal form of land use.
In order to drive home their points, in recent days thousands of Polish family farmers turned up in more than 50 locations, as more than 150 tractors blocked the A2 highway into the capital of Warsaw. Hundreds more closed other major roads while farmers picketed government offices. Farmers vowed to continue with their protests until the Warsaw government agrees to enter talks with the unions and discuss other agricultural issues.
Ready to talk
As noted further in a Land Workers Alliance press release:
These actions represent a dramatic escalation of protests that have been simmering across the country over the last year. Edward Kosmal, chairman of the farmers protest committee for West-Pomeranian Region said: "We are ready for dialogue. We look forward to meeting with you Prime Minister and beginning a comprehensive government commitment to solving the problems of Polish agriculture. If you do not enter into a dialogue with the Union, we would be forced to tighten our forms of protest."
Members of the farmer trade union Solidarity have made similar statements reported in press releases.
"We demand a legal ban on GM crops in Poland. The value of Polish agriculture, unique in Europe, is the unpolluted environment and high quality food production. These are decisive for our competitiveness in global markets," said one farmer.
"We are entitled to conclude that the European Union blindness deprives people in our country from thinking in terms of the importance of development for Polish citizens, and thus the Polish economy," stated another.
"We demand the introduction of legislation that will protect Polish land from exploitation by foreign capital! Agricultural land can not be sold to commercial companies. It's part of Polish territory. Once sold it will be lost," said a third farmer, as quoted by the Land Workers Alliance.
Poland has many "peasant" farmers
As reported by the The Ecologist, the actions of the farmers were a "dramatic escalation" meant to force the government into discussions and an extension of months of simmering tension over key reform issues, especially in the country's north:
An immediate cause of discontent has been oppressive 'food hygiene' and other regulations that effectively [prevent] small scale farmers from selling their produce on-farm and in local markets, where their mostly organic (if uncertified) produce is widely respected as of higher quality than food gown on modern industrial farms.
Poland is one of the last European nations that retains a large number of so-called "peasant" farmers who use traditional agricultural methods to grow food. This includes chemical-free farming and very low levels of mechanization. Horses are very widely employed for traction.
Also, farms are largely mixed, containing a small number of cattle, horses, pigs and chickens, as well as arable land -- all in about a 12-acre area (5 hectares).
But Western corporations seek to industrialize Poland's agriculture industry, and many farmers believe that the country's government is in favor of the industrialization.
If you want to join the movement toward growing your own safe, organic food and becoming self-reliant, check out the new Food Rising Mini-Farm Grow Boxes at FoodRising.org.
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