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South Tyrolean state council wants to withdraw complaint against pesticide rebels

by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)

Two men with crossed arms
Alexander Schiebel and Karl Bär © Jörg Farys

Arnold Schuler, South Tyrolean provincial councillor, and more than 1,300 farmers had sued the agricultural expert Karl Baer and the author of "Das Wunder von Mals" Alexander Schiebel. The Bolzano Regional Court opened the proceedings this week, with Schuler and two farmers participating as joint plaintiffs. According to the Environmental Institute, the judge set the plaintiffs a deadline of November 27 to withdraw all charges. Until then the outcome of the proceedings remains open.

Worldwide solidarity

Schuler's withdrawal was the result of a massive public campaign. More than 200,000 people from all over Europe had called on councillor Arnold Schuler via the Campact and WeMove campaign networks to drop his lawsuits. Over 100 organizations from 18 countries had made a joint declaration of solidarity in the leading Italian daily newspapers La Repubblica and La Stampa. The declaration stated: "Being able to express criticism of grievances openly and without fear - even in a pointed form - is an elementary component of any functioning democracy. That is why we look at this development in South Tyrol with great concern".

Author Alexander Schiebel suspects that the wave of solidarity may have caused a rethink in Schuler’s mind. But that comes too late: "Provincial Councillor Schuler has done enormous damage to the image of South Tyrol with his comlaints. It is now known throughout Europe that South Tyrol not only has a pesticide problem, but also a problem of democracy".

Pesticide usage disclosed

Karl Baer reported another success in the trial: "At our request, the public prosecutor's office in Bolzano had the farm books of the more than 1300 farmers who had joined the complaint of the regional council collected. The books contained the exact information about which and how much pesticide each individual farmer had applied to his field in 2017. "Even if the process were to be discontinued, we would still be able to fall back on this concrete data - something that has never before been possible in this way throughout Europe," said Bär.


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