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GMO companies thrive in lack of regulation

In the face of no international standards on GMO produce - and ambivalence about whether pros outweigh cons for GMO agriculture - companies are able to muscle GMO agricultural practices throughout Latin America.

FORO writes,

"Also, as yet there are no international regulations to control the use and spread of GMOs. International organizations have proposed protocols to implement international food codes (FAO and WHO) and to adopt bio-security regulations at national borders (Protocol of Cartagena), to avoid the risk that GMOs affect other products or reproduce genetic material. However, none of these protocols have been widely accepted. Some countries have proposed regulations on tagging and commercialization of GM products, but without taking into account the impacts that commercialization and use can have. Some transnational corporations are taking advantage of this situation. As a result of the lack of regulation, and the influence of some economic and political powers, as well as the need within developing countries to improve agricultural productivity, a problematic situation has arisen."

GMOs do have potential for both positive and negative impacts (more information here: http://rfsearchlight.clearsignals.org/node/437), and Latin America is a powerhouse in the GMO industry:

"One third of the 134 million hectares of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) planted globally in 2009, were in South America. Brazil and Argentina are the main producers, with 21,4 and 21,3 million hectares respectively. Of the 25 countries in the world that are planting genetically modified crops, seven are in South America (see Table 1). Between 2008 and 2009, world production of GM crops increased 8 percent, while in Brazil it rose 35 percent."

Implications

FORO highlights some of the downsides associated with GMO-based agriculture:

"Some of the consequences of this commercial quasi-monopoly of seeds are: (i) soil degradation, because single crop farming, resistance to herbicides, and extinction of insects are linked to plants’ reproduction; (ii) GM species have the potential mix and reproduce with non-GM species, without knowing the impact of these combinations; and (iii) economic and social dependence of farmers on GM-crops, herbicides, and high-cost machinery."

FORO also speculates that countries will need to find ways to harness the advantages of GMOs and reduce the risks, though ultimately, they don't have the power to completely control them:

"The challenge is to develop capacities to control GMOs and to adopt regulations to reduce and control the risks of GMOs. Also, some countries, like Peru, will try to maintain their positions as a GMO-free zones, but in the medium-term, countries will have to improve their capacity to manage the risks associated with GMOs, because they won’t have the capacity to control the inflow of these kind of crops."

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Sources:

FORO Nacional/Internacional, May 2010, page 4: http://newsletters.clearsignals.org/FORO_May2010.pdf#page=4

See: Clive James, 2009 in: http://isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/41/executivesummary/pdf/Brief%2041%20-%20Executive%20Summary%20-%20Spanish.pdf

FAO and the Acquisition for Agri-Biotech Aplications (ISAAA) point out the need to feed 9,200 million people in 2050, this require to double the food production in less than 50 years. See: http://isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/41/executivesummary/pdf/Brief%2041%20-%20Executive%20Summary%20-%20Spanish.pdf

http://transgenicos.ecoportal.net/

http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/espana/reports/que-sabes-de-los-transgenicos-2.pdf

http://www.codexalimentarius.net/web/index_es.jsp

http://www.cbd.int/doc/legal/cartagena-protocol-es.pdf

Venezuela and Brazil have some regulation about GM. See: http://www.semillas.org.co/sitio.shtml?apc=h1-1--&x=20156447

After the earthquake in Haiti, the Company Montsanto tried to donate 475 tons of GM seeds to Haiti, but Haitian authorities did not accept them. See: http://alainet.org/active/38266.