The rural voice must be heard

Julian Rose, part of the speech at the Polish Parliament, January 2002,

The European Commission Directorate General for Agriculture is the place where the fate of Poland's countryside is being decided. We met the seven members of the team negotiating Poland 's agricultural accession to the European Union. We explained Poland 's unique opportunity to exploit its thousands of ecologically sensitive small farms and to hold up, as an example to Western Europe, its remarkable diversity of landscape, wildlife and wildflower habitats. We said that the traditions which have maintained these qualities needed support, if they are to be maintained. We asked that the EU would find a means of channelling available funds towards social, environmental and small business support schemes, this being the area where most benefit could be achieved.

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© ECOTURISM

In recent years a new kind of holiday, based on ecological tourism to organic farms, was pioneered in Poland. This new type of holiday or vacation is associated with the increasing awareness of the importance of the traditional rural environment as a vital natural and cultural resource and treasure that can be both protected and enjoyed. Poland is ideal for such holidays, as it has a variety of regions with beautiful landscapes, rich, bio-diverse environments, and small-scale organic and traditional farms that are ideal vacation spots.

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'Use this chance -- A time for Polish farmers'

I have been thinking how to convince small farmers that they are facing a big opportunity, and if they will use this opportunity, it will strengthen the socio-economic position of their farms. First of all this chance depends on their own activities and initiative, not that of the government, and their appreciation of the value of what they have.  If we don't take any action, we will be blamed by future generations that we allowed the destruction of Polish traditions, culture, and the countryside landscape, and voluntarily allowed colonization by the EU. Based on my observations during my visits to Western Europe and the U.S.A., I can state that in general the Polish countryside is rich. This is a quite shocking statement, because for many years we have been taught that the Polish countryside is poor and backward, and that we need to modernize, chemisize and urbanize the countryside. The propaganda was so strong that we as countryside people believed it, forgetting that we are the citizens of these villages, and that these foreign ideas were imposed by a small but strong group of business people. Why is it like this? Simply because the interests of countryside people and these business people are different.

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Organic hope for Poland?

Holiday on a Polish organic farm

Poland stands as the connecting point between two worlds. To the west, a fully developed, post industrial society now counting the cost of 'living beyond its means'. To the east, a massive and hungry continent struggling to attain living standards comparable to its western counterparts. Between these two extremes, at a delicate point of equilibrium, is the Polish phenomenon. A country of 40 million people with 26% of its working population still farming the land. A land rich in biodiversity and cultural expression, divided up into thousands of little farms averaging just 7 ha (16 acres) each in size.

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GMO Bochure

1. Are GMOs essential for effective sustainable agriculture in a hungry world?
Dismantling the myth of genetics as the principal constraint on responsible global agricultural production
by Mark Griffiths BSc FRICS FAAV

2. Campaigning against GMOs: International Experiences and Prospects by Lorenz Petersen, 07.06.2001

3. GMO-free Zones by Iza Kruszewska, ANPED, The Northern Alliance for Sustainability

4. Sustainable Organic Plant Breeding - An Alternative to Gene Technology by Cornelia Wiethaler, NABU - Bundesverband

5. Local Solutions for Global Problems by Julian Rose June 2001

Read more: GMO Bochure

Does the Polish Countryside have a Future in the European Union?

Saved in ICPPC as Speech to SEJM 13.11.01

Some tough decisions now lie ahead.

The agricultural sector is widely recognised both in Poland and in Brussels as the hardest area of negotiation for Poland's entry into the EU and the conditions of entry will be decided in the coming nine months. It is of crucial importance that these work out in Poland's favour.

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