This blog entry was originally written by Teresa on April 28th, but due to our website migration appears to be from a different date and author.
Emma Stoner has been the crew photographer on the GE-Free Future Tour, this entry is about her experience.
We arrived in Spain, the 'heart of GE in Europe' in the blaze of a Spanish sunset. It was nearing the end of the road for us, only 2 stops in Spain after two and a half weeks on the road. We were all tired but excited to have taken the bus so far and into a country where GE is so predominant. Spain produces 80% of all GMO in Europe and is home to 76,000 hectares of land used for the cultivation of GE crops. Our visit to the Spanish farm was scheduled for the following morning so we checked into our hotel to catch up on some sleep.
12/04/2010 Greenpeace Staff in Spain
The next day we met with a group of about 10 staff and volunteers from Greenpeace Spain who were all wearing matching Greenpeace 'No Quiero Transgenicos' t-shirts and had brought us some to wear for the trip. We headed to Ecohuerto Organic Farm and welcomed by the farmer Chema Montes who set up the farm with his wife 5 years ago. On their land they grow a variety of vegetables for human consumption: aubergines, salad, cucumbers, peppers, onions, lentils and beans to name a few. This is a stark contrast to the surrounding countryside where the agricultural fields are used for crazing cattle for meat which is fed on GE corn. Thirty percent of Spain's GE farming happens in this region.
The soil here was much dryer and more arid than that in Hungary and it was hard to imagine it being fertile enough to produce food but Chema showed us some of the crops, including leeks which were large and healthy and growing in abundance. The farm was much smaller than both those visited in Hungary and all of the vegetables are hand-planted using a simple tool which he demonstrated to us which is used to position the plant into the earth.
I took portraits of Chema with his plants, in the greenhouses and on the fields where the intense blue sky contrasted with the dry, flat, brown land, giving a desert-like appearance and quite a different backdrop to the previous farms. After he signed the bus a group of us went back to the fields for a team photo-shoot in matching t-shirts. This was fun shoot! I directed the group to pose beside some of the crops in the field and then we moved over to a greenhouse nearby which was surrounded by little white flowers. Chema joined us in the centre of the photograph and white butterflies buzzed around the scene as I everyone laughed and joked, putting flowers in their hair for some real flower power!
11/04/2010 Organic Wheat in Spain
After an organic lunch we headed to Eco Monegros bakery, a small family-run business which produces bread using only organic ingredients. Father and daughter team Daniel and Ana Marcén showed us around the tools of the trade, explaining (in Spanish) how things operate here. I found it quite chaotic at this point, with so many people and trying to conduct a photo-shoot when everyone spoke in a foreign language! I had to slow things down and pull the Daniel and Ana to one side for pictures both together and separately as we went along. Ana was really very helpful and positive and we tried various angles whilst she fed me some delicious organic biscuits made here. She said that her grandmother was wary of press attention and was of the belief that "pride comes before a fall". I told her that I think it's really important to get a positive message out there, not just from this bakery but all of the organic farms we visited on our trip. Hopefully it will inspire more people to take pride in their food and go organic.
Our trip culminated 6 days later in a huge rally which was attended by over 15,000 people from all over Europe. The message was 'No Transgenicos' ( No GMO’s/ No GE) and it rang loud and clear through the streets as the people marched against GE.
16/04/2010 GE Action at Spanish Ministry of Environment
The day before Greenpeace had an action outside the Ministry of Agriculture in Madrid and the bus was left here as a blockade / petition and later towed away. The police had outnumbered activists at the site and I had tried to shoot goodbye pictures of the truck surrounded by police and activists. The action was much more frontline than anything that we had done on the trip and it was a powerful statement to make in that country in particular, although it was sad to wave “ adios” to our beautiful and colourful bus!
The rally at the end was really a positive climax and a great way to end the visual narrative. It was fantastic to see so many people speaking out against something we had been working on for the past few weeks. I hope that the GE Free Future bus tour and the photo-documentation of alternative machinery and ecological farming will go some way in getting support for this campaign so we can protect health and nature for generations to come.
To see more of Emmas photographs from the tour join out GE-Free Future Facebook page.