The first ever European Citizens’ Initiative is handed over to John Dali - EU Commissioner of Health and Consumer Policy. Over a million signatures surround the 380-square-metre piece of 3D pavement art.
Can you imagine how it feels to cross the finishing line of a marathon race... the smile, the thrill, the excitement, the urge to hug the fellows athletes, and also the exhaustion, the feeling of just sitting down to take several breaths before articulating a word? Well, this is exactly how I feel because we just finished an amazing race to get 1 million people calling for safe food and stopping genetically modified (GM) crops in the EU. But this is not your average petition. For the first time we’re using our citizens rights under the EU Lisbon Treaty.
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What follows every amazing race is the ceremony for the winners, so together with Avaaz - we are about to celebrate reaching our finishing line - delivering over 1 million signatures to the European Commissioner of Health, John Dalli. Actually he was the reason that Avaaz initiated this petition immediately because he went ahead and authorised the controversial antibiotic-resistant GE potato back in March in spite of public opposition and scientific concerns. And we joined the petition with Avaaz just before launching our ‘GMO cookbook’ and billboard campaign in Brussels.
Our race has made lots of records: It is the first European Citizens’ Intiative (ECI) delivered to the EU Commission after the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty. Over 1 million people signed the petition within 7 months from across Europe’s 27 countries and we actually passed the limit of the necessary number per country in 12 member states! That’s almost double the amount required for an ECI as it stands now.
We wanted to deliver 1 million signatures in a special way in order to value every single name and I was thrilled when my colleague, Heath, came up with the brilliant idea to create a colourful 3D work of art including all of your first names - to be placed right in front of the EU Commission building. And we were incredibly lucky to get one of the most famous 3D pavement artists Kurt Wenner to accept the task. Kurt created an ecological farm symbolising the future of agriculture with no GM crops surrounded by the 1 million names. The design was then transferred to a huge 11GB file and sent to us for printing. This piece of art created by one person sets a new world record! Another world record is the printing of the art on the biggest eco-friendly canvas by Pyramid Visuals who used non-toxic inks.
A million names making up the citizens' initiative border the 3D pavement art outside the EU Commision.
We will meet Commissioner Dalli on top of the 3D pavement art with the presence of the press as we so we can broadcast the million strong call for safe food and fair farming across the EU. We expect the Commission to take this petition very seriously and act on it.
So the question for Commissioner Dalli and the European Commission is: will they listen the 1 million citizens and address the real concerns on GM crops or will they take the side of the agro-chemical industry? If the Commission is not willing to act we are prepared to explore all options available including legal avenues and we will need your support!
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If you signed the petition - you’re one in a very special million today! I hope you will tell your friends about it by tweeting about your signature or sharing this news on Facebook.
Stay tuned and get ready to win the next race!
Myrto Pispini is an agriculture campaigner at Greenpeace International