April 8. Opposition to GMOs Day

April 8. Opposition to GMOs Day

By María Isabel Cárcamo

One hundred international organizations declare in more than 40 countries that April 8, 2006 will be the international day of collective opposition to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). On this day the global and constant opposition to transgenic food and plants will be demonstrated.

April 8 - International Day of Collective Opposition to Food transgenic. Uruguay: Sovereign Country?

One hundred international organizations declare in more than 40 countries that April 8, 2006 will be the international day of collective opposition to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). On this day the global and constant opposition to transgenic food and plants will be demonstrated.

This date has been chosen because it coincides with the Biotechnology Convention in Chicago and the verdict of the World Trade Organization related to the dispute between the United States and Europe over the trade in GMOs.

Introduction of transgenic crops

In 1994 the first GMO was commercialized in the United States. Two years later, 1 million hectares of GMOs were planted in the world, most of it concentrated in the United States. Ten years later there are 80 million hectares of GMOs planted mainly in the United States, Canada and Argentina. The controversy is centered on the benefits and risks of these crops, after twelve years of commercialization and ten years of large-scale cultivation. The GMO crops used on a large scale so far have been soybeans, corn, cotton, canola and poplars.

GMOs in Uruguay

In Uruguay, GMOs were introduced in 1998 with RR soy, resistant to the herbicide Roundup. Civil society as a whole did not have the opportunity to discuss the issue, including producer unions, the University, consumers, NGOs. This productive model imposed from outside was not discussed at the level of the Legislative Power, as if it were not a matter of vital importance for "Natural Uruguay". Once again, the interests of the large transnationals prevailed over the sovereignty of the Uruguayan people.

GM soy was introduced without consulting or evaluating its risks.
Since its introduction there has been a substantial increase in the area planted and in the 2005-2006 sowing it is estimated that it has reached an area of ​​300,000 hectares, displacing other crops such as wheat, barley and sorghum. Soy is grown for export to Europe and Asia as animal feed and a small part of it is used in Uruguay in processed foods such as oil and alfajores among many others.

The other transgenic grown in our country is corn and two varieties have already been approved: MON 810 from Monsanto in 2003 and Bt 11 from Syngenta in 2004.

The advance of transgenics

The introduction of transgenic corn generated resistance from civil society as a whole, from government authorities, academics from the University of the Republic who proposed that its introduction be suspended until scientific studies are carried out at the national level and organic producers that are would be affected by the introduction of this transgenic crop. Unfortunately, these opinions were not taken into account and to date 22,000 hectares of transgenic corn of the two varieties mentioned above have been planted.

The hectares of transgenic corn planted in the country have been around 22,000 but what is used by the poultry and livestock industry in the country is much greater than what is harvested, which is why corn is imported from Argentina as grain, thus introducing other varieties of transgenic corn not yet approved in Uruguay.

The social and environmental impacts

8 years after the introduction of GMOs in Uruguay, we are in a position to say that for Uruguay this has meant:

- Latifundización and foreignization of the land by Argentine and Brazilian businessmen, since much of the territory where soybeans have been planted has been leased or sold.

- Soil degradation and compaction due to its continued use (without rotation) for the production of soybeans and the consequent application of increasing amounts of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and other pesticides.

- Massive use of highly polluting pesticides, such as 2,4 D, endosulfan, cypermethrin, among others, negatively affecting soil, water and people's health

- Displacement of crops such as wheat, sorghum and barley

- The mechanization of tasks has led to agriculture without
farmers and almost no workers

- Occupation of lands that were previously destined for livestock and that are now used for the cultivation of soybeans

- Imposition of cultural change in food, specifically in processed foods, without the majority of the population being even informed. This change is even greater among the poorest, who are given, as food aid, transgenic soy through the misnamed "soy milk" and "soy milanesas."

With the introduction of transgenic soybeans and corn, a production model and a change in diet have been imposed. Civil society has not asked for transgenic crops but they have been imposed on them, thus taking away the possibility of choosing and saying what they want to grow and eat.

Who has benefited from this technology

The main beneficiaries have been the companies that own the seeds and which are also the same companies that produce the pesticides used in these crops. The profit is not only produced by the sale of the seed, but also a patent must be paid for the use of it. Since 2004, the government has authorized the companies that own the seeds to sign a contract with the farmers for the payment of royalties (use of the seed, intellectual property).

The imposition of these crops has left us with destruction. Part of our soil and water wealth goes into each soybean grain. We have lost the ability to choose what we want to grow and eat. The end result is the loss of our territorial and food sovereignty.

At this time when it is very fashionable in Uruguay to talk about sovereignty,
It would be important for territorial and food sovereignty to be debated and the foreignization of land and its destruction to be discussed.

Maria Isabel Cárcamo *
RAP-AL Uruguay
March 4, 2006

RAP-AL Uruguay
Pesticide Action Network
and its Latin American Alternatives
Ana Monterroso de Lavalleja 2112/802
Montevideo CP 11200
Tel: 598 (2) 401 2834 Fax: 598 (2) 401 2834
Cell: 099 613193

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