Organic agriculture is the alternative for Puerto Rico

Organic agriculture is the alternative for Puerto Rico

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By Puerto Rico Biosafety Project

A hopeful agroecological revolution is engulfing the world, in rich and poor countries alike. Civil society groups, grassroots movements, indigenous peoples, progressive intellectuals, committed scientists and many other sectors are organizing and educating and mobilizing against transgenic crops and for socially just and ecologically sound agriculture.

The Puerto Rico Biosafety Project is forced to comment on the cover story of the Business Magazine of El Nuevo Día on Sunday, June 4. Entitled "A Vender el Paraíso Biotecnológico," the report praises the supposed benefits of investments by biotechnology companies in Puerto Rico.

A second article on the subject on page 13 is devoted to agricultural biotechnology, that is, transgenic crops. The editor interviews a representative of Monsanto in Puerto Rico, Lucy Cruz, who serves us the propaganda discourse of the biotechnology industry.

We will not give a detailed dissertation on why GMOs are inherently dangerous. Carmelo Ruiz Marrero, director of the Biosafety Project, did that in his book "Transgenic Ballad" and in more recent writings.

But we offer a sample button: In 2003 about twenty leading scientists from seven countries, spanning the disciplines of agroecology, agronomy, biomathematics, botany, medical chemistry, ecology, histopathology, microbial ecology, molecular genetics, nutritional biochemistry, physiology. , toxicology and virology formed the Independent Science Panel ( This group presented a detailed report on transgenic products in which they argue that "The most serious dangers of
genetic engineering are inherent in the process itself. "

Among the report's findings:

* Contrary to what their proponents allege, these crops have not been shown to be safe. The regulation is based on an anti-precautionary approach to expedite product approval at the cost of safety considerations.
* The greatest dangers of genetic engineering are - by far - inherent in the process itself.
* There have been very few credible studies on the safety of GMOs. However, the little information available is worrying.
* There is already experimental evidence that transgenic plant DNA can be absorbed by bacteria from the soil and the intestines of human subjects.
* It is known that transgenic DNA can survive the enzymes and acids of the digestive system and jump into the genome of mammalian cells, raising the possibility for triggering cancer.
* There is a history of misrepresentation and suppression of scientific evidence for the sake of promoting agricultural biotechnology. Key experiments weren't done, or they were poorly done and then misrepresented.
* Enough evidence has come to light to raise serious questions about the safety of GMOs. Ignoring this evidence can result in irreversible damage to human health and the environment. For this reason, GM crops must be firmly rejected now.

There are plenty of alternatives. There is no need to turn to GM crops to feed the hungry or to vitalize the Puerto Rican economy. There is not even any need to resort to toxic poisons to fight pests or cause any environmental damage to do agriculture.

A hopeful agroecological revolution is engulfing the world, in rich and poor countries alike. Civil society groups, grassroots movements, indigenous peoples, progressive intellectuals, committed scientists and many other sectors are organizing and educating and mobilizing against transgenic crops and for socially just and ecologically sound agriculture.

They are in Bangladesh and France, in Brazil and South Africa, in the United States and Puerto Rico, fighting for food sovereignty, agrarian reform, the preservation of the seed as the heritage of the peoples, and for demonstrating that another future is possible.

This silent revolution manifests itself in home gardens, community gardens, farmers markets, food cooperatives, seed exchanges, movements for food sovereignty and land reform, and the rise of organic agriculture.

Organic agriculture is a set of practices and concepts aimed at combining healthy food production with environmental protection. It avoids the use of toxic substances such as insecticides and herbicides, which have been scientifically linked to environmental destruction and degenerative diseases in human beings.

Those who believe that this type of agricultural production is not practical nor will it become a specialized niche market are not properly documented. Today 59 million acres around the world are dedicated to organic farming, according to Professor Miguel Altieri, an entomologist at the University of California. Nine million of these acres are in Europe: Germany has about 8,000 organic farms, while Italy has about 18,000. The European Union and its member countries have specific guidelines to help and promote this type of agriculture. It is expected that by 2010 30% to 50% of European agriculture will be organic. The global organic food market reached $ 23 billion in 2002.

"Studies have shown that organic farms can be as productive as conventional ones, but without using agrochemicals," says Altieri. "They also consume less energy, while conserving soil and water." The evidence overwhelmingly shows that "organic methods can produce food for everyone, and do it from generation to generation without wasting natural resources."

Proponents of industrialized agriculture and the use of GMOs argue that organic agriculture does not provide the yields needed to feed the world's growing population. But any reduction in yields in organic production is largely offset by efficiency and ecological advances. Research presented by the Independent Science Group shows that organic farming can be commercially viable in the long term and produce more food per unit of energy and resources. In fact, the production costs of organic agriculture are often lower than those of conventional agriculture, and bring equivalent or higher profits even without the usual price premium for organic products. When the high price of the product is incorporated into the equation, organic production systems are almost always more profitable.

"Data show that over time agroecological farms show more stable levels of total production per unit area than high-input systems; they produce favorable returns; they provide enough income in proportion to labor costs and other inputs to have a level of acceptable life for small farmers and their families, and ensure the protection and conservation of soils and improve biodiversity ", says Altieri.

A study on sustainable agriculture projects in countries of the global South found that the average food production per household increased by 1.71 tons per year (73%) for 4.42 million farmers on 3.58 million hectares, providing food security and health benefits. to local communities. "Increased agricultural productivity has been shown to increase food supply and raise incomes, thereby reducing poverty, increasing access to food, reducing malnutrition, and improving health and living standards," stated the Science Group Independent.

"Sustainable agriculture methods draw extensively on indigenous and traditional knowledge and emphasize farmer experience and innovation. This therefore uses locally available, low-cost and appropriate resources and also enhances the status and autonomy of the farmer, improving social and cultural relations in local communities. "

And furthermore, studies show that on average organic foods are higher in vitamin C, have more minerals and compounds that fight cancer, heart disease, and neurological dysfunctions related to old age, and have significantly lower levels of toxic nitrates.

"Sustainable agricultural practices have proven beneficial in all aspects relevant to health and the environment. Furthermore, they bring food security and social and cultural well-being to local communities everywhere," concludes the Independent Science Group. "There is an urgent need for a comprehensive global shift towards all forms of sustainable agriculture."

More information in:
Puerto Rico Biosafety Project
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00925
Web page:

Video: How Cuban agriculture went from industrial to sustainable (July 2022).


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