Our GE-free bus is currently on tour around Europe - calling for a moratorium on all genetically engineered produce in the EU in order to protect consumers, farmers and the environment.
The GE Free Bus leaves Greenpeace International Headquarters in Amsterdam
24 March: GMO bus tour leaving Amsterdam
Green light to risky GMOs? No way!
It was an early spring afternoon when the Greeenpeace GE FREE FUTURE campaign bus left Amsterdam, saying goodbye to people waving and shouting their best wishes to the 4 crew members of the bus. Many memberstates, farmers and consumers had the hope that the new European Commission is really going to take to the will, choice and worries of citizens, farmers and concerned Memberstates. That they will finally revise the authorization of Genetic engineered (GE) crops as Memberstates asked for it at the end of 2008. It did not. They authorized a GE potato instead with their first decision in an undemocratic way. A potato which could cause antibiotic resistance, so could reduce the efficiency of certain important medicines. A potato which could mean threat to health, environment and to economy. And that is not all - many more GE crops could still to come, which are already waiting for approval.
EUROPEAN BUS TOUR – from AMSTERDAM to MADRID
I was frustrated and angry at the same time because I can easily see the nightmare that a group of 27 is forcefeeding 500 million europen citizens. So, I happily joined the Greenpeace GE FREE FUTURE bus tour. We want to send the message to the Barroso led Commission and to all governemnts in EU that people do not want genetically modified food on their plate, seeds in the land, feed on their farm. Because it is not sure, whether they are safe, they are not helping farmers and they are more difficult to sell.
The "bus" originally came from Germany. It was used for airpollution measurements in the past in several countries inlcuding Austria, Argentina and Brasil, too. A team of activists and experts repaired the 19-year-old bus, changed its' interior and put additional features into it. This bus, for me more like a truck, could carry 5 people at the same time and had a separate room at the back.
Our German activists converted the container at the back to a traditional farmer "grandma's kitchen" with cupboard, cooker, dinner table, armchairs and even a stove. Decorated with fancy retro wallpapers and paintings, the bus has a videocamera attached to the wall to record everyone’s message to Barroso. The idea is to sit down at the table and give your receipt for a GE-free future, to send their message to European Commission and their own government about GE.
GETTING STARTED – THE NETHERLANDS
Greenpeace staff wave farewell as the GE Free Bus leaves Greenpeace International Headquarters in Amsterdam
Being a Hungarian I could get to know the other crew members of the bus: Emma, the British photograper, Jens, our German driver and mechanic and Jean-Jacques, the captain of the whole bus tour. who is coordinating the trip through 7 European countries.We had to be in Luxembourg city by the evening and the bus was much slower than I expected, so we could not enjoy the Dutch and Belgian landscape for long, however Emma could not avoid taking nice photos with tipical wooden windmill and our bus. Luckily. That's how I had to realize again, that the Dutch countryside is really really different from the Hungarian, much more organized and - at least for me - ours seems to be much more diverse. This is what I intend to show to everyone when we get to Hungary next week! The chanels fascinated me, though - used for agriculture, transport, fishing, sports, but fragmented the Dutch lowlands.
The team arrives to Luxembourg
We started to get to know each other fast. Jean-Jacques (JJ) came up with his travel stories and which became kick starter: weird stories followed each other. We got to know who is doing what and since when for Greenpeace.
Late at night we got to Luxembourg city and finally met Fredrik, the Swedish activist, who is interested in good food, agriculture, self-sustainable life and organic farming. He was put in deep water immediately: Maurice, the sustainable agriculture campaigner of the local Greenpeace office was waiting for us and explained our detailed programme for the coming two days! You should have been there! - all faces shocked by seeing the number of meetings he organized for the next day. A rally! Organic farmer presidents, farmer school directors, consumer union representatives, majors, cooks, and ministers were supposed to meet the GE FREE FUTURE bus tour.
Since we were not all experienced with the equipment, and wanted to discuss what steps are necessary to keep it secure and how to organize interior fast, in case a minister comes to send a video message to Barroso from our traditional farmer kitchen, it was almost midnight, when we still had to prepare to be good. We were carrying valuable publication on the roof of the bus, full of references to scientific studies which could mean treasure for the ones who want to ban GMOs in Europe. Maurice was worried about loosing them, so we decided to guard it and Jens volunteered to sleep in the bus.
Got to bed Supertired, but all enthousiastic seeing the importance of our tour in Luxemburg.
Balázs "Bob" Tömöri, GE Campaigner from Hungary
Picture credit: © Emma Stoner / Greenpeace, 03/24/2010, Amsterdam, The Netherlands