An Italian farmer, Giorgio Fidenato, planted two fields in Friuli, Italy North-Est, with Bt maize in April 2010. The smaller one, located inside the village of Vivaro (Pordenone) was destroyed by eco-terrorists in August. The second and largest one reached the maturation time and was harvested by Italian legal authorities and stocked in a place where it might be either destroyed or given back to Fidenato following the decision of the court.
The process against Fidenato started yesterday, January 24th, and was immediately postponed to February the 2nd. Five different organization are acting against Fidenato planting decision:
1) the Region Friuli (right wing party)
2) the province of Pordenone
3) the main Italian agriculture syndicate, Coldiretti (catholic)
4) the Slow Food organization promoting the very expensive local food (left wing party)
5) a large organization of consumers, Codacons
Italy never deposited a safeguard clause under article 23 of the EU Directive 2001/18, never approved a national law on coexistence of GMOs with traditional cultivation and do not have an active rule to allow the field trials for scientific trials of GMOs.
The claim of the 5 opponents is that Italy has a penal law saying that who might plant non authorized GMOs could be put in prison for up to three years and pay up to 100.000€. The judge proposed a sanction of only 30.000€ and no jail. Fidenato opposed to this proposal of the court and thus the process started.
The Fidenato arguments is that due to the extreme delay of Italy to have a national law on GMOs cultivation (waiting from 2003) the rules active at present in Italy are the EU rules that allows the cultivation of approved GMOs as the Bt maize MON 810 he planted.
One aspect that might be relevant in the process is the issue of the unintended cross-pollination of neighboring maize fields. The largest Fidenato field (up to three hectares) was bordering two other fields of traditional maize. When the legal authorities was informed that the Fidenato maize was GM, they sent experts to sample corn from the traditional field at 5 and 8 meters distance from the GM maize. Among the 30 samples collected none was above the European legal limit of 0,9%, and in particular 15 was below 0,9% and 15 was zero.
The Region Friuli said the bill caused by Fidenato is at present of 60.000€ (see http://www.salmone.org/fidenato-mais-ogm-veneto-60000-euro/ Fidenato is the one with glasses on the left aggressed by non-farmer activist).
Fidenato already said that he will plant again GM maize in 2011, but nobody knows when and where.