Discovery of Transgenic Corn proves that authorities do not enforce laws that prohibit genetically engineered (GE) Crops,” warns Bolivia GMO Free Coalition
THE EVENTUAL DISAPPEARANCE OF BOLIVIA’S 77 NATIVE VARIETIES OF CORN AND THE EXISTENCE OF TRANSGENIC CORN IN BOLIVIA IS DENOUNCED
Representatives of grassroots organizations grouped under Bolivia GMO Free Coalition have served complaint letters to several government institutions in La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz, denouncing non-compliance with their official duties related to the import, cultivation and commercialization of transgenic corn in Bolivia. The negligence of the authorities puts at serious risk Bolivian genetic heritage as well as the health of its population.
The cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) corn is prohibited by law through a series of decrees and regulations, as well as by the Constitution of Bolivia in Article 255 and Act No. 144 of the Productive Revolution and Law of the Rights of Mother Earth. In addition, other eight regulations relating to consumer rights, mandatory food labeling laws and international treaties are being breached.
For thousands of years, the native communities of Bolivia have relied on corn as a main staple for their survival, enjoying both its free possession and exchange of seeds, the determining factors that ensure the security of food supplies and food sovereignty of native peoples.
Among the Bolivian institutions notified were INIAF (National Institute of Agricultural and Forestry Innovation), SENASAG (National Agricultural Health and Food Safety Service) and the Vice Ministry for Consumers and Users Defense.
INVESTIGATION CONFIRMS SMUGGLING OF TRANSGENIC CORN
On March 17th, an expedition of agronomists, sociologists, economists and journalists went to the village of Charagua, south of the city of Santa Cruz, where they conducted laboratory tests confirming the presence of transgenic RoundUp Ready (RR) corn resistant to glyphosate, in sector 20 of the Pinondi Mennonite Colony.
Rodrigo Lampasona, from Bolivia GMO Free Coalition, said that "for many years there have been rumors that GE corn was being illegally introduced from Argentina by smugglers. This was mainly Bt corn resistant to a pest known locally as ‘gusano (worm) cogollero.’ However, the recent lab tests also revealed the presence of RR corn resistant to Monsanto's RoundUp Ready, an herbicide composed mainly of glyphosate that has recently been listed as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization."
Also on March 2017, several corn samples collected in food markets around Charagua tested by a laboratory in Santa Cruz, also showed positive results for the identification of transgenic corn. Some sources indicate that the illegal cultivation of transgenic corn in Bolivia already exceeds 75,000 acres. This proves the government authorities in Bolivia such as INIAF and SENASAG are not complying with their legal obligations to protect and safeguard the genetic heritage of Bolivia's seeds and the health of its citizens.
Alejandra Crespo, the spokesperson for Bolivia GMO Free Coalition, says that "the situation is very serious since Bolivia has a great biodiversity and holds 77 native varieties of corn that are inevitably doomed to extinction if they are to be contaminated by genetically engineered corn. In addition, it is unacceptable that in the food markets of Charagua and its neighboring areas, GE corn is being sold directly for human consumption, thus endangering the health of the population. By contaminating our seeds, multinationals seek to control our communities condemning them to depend on imported seeds for life."
It should be stressed that there are no scientific studies proving that GE corn is safe for human consumption or has no long-term effects on human health. On the contrary, laboratory tests on rats fed with NK603 RR corn conducted in France (Seralini, 2012), provided evidence that feeding rats on that variety of GE corn may cause liver and kidney damage, as well as induce the development of tumors.
Therefore, by issuing the aforementioned letters of denunciation to the authorities, Bolivia GMO Free Coalition is beginning a national and international campaign named "EL MAIZ ES MI RAIZ - CORN IS MY ROOT", which seeks to stop the import (legal or illegal), marketing, handling and cultivation of genetically engineered corn. The campaign is centered on informing the public about the dangers of transgenic corn and is demanding from the authorities a real commitment to uphold the Bolivian Constitution and every law that protects the right of citizens to a “Healthy Life – Vivir Bien”. The organization also aims to defend and encourage the practice of ecological agriculture before the interests of big agribusiness corporations.
For further information, contact:
USA: Anet Aguilar firstname.lastname@example.org
Corn is Our Heritage Saving Seeds is Our Right!
Bolivia GMO Free http://bolivialibredetransgenicos.blogspot.com/ is a grassroots coalition of citizens, indigenous communities, consumer rights groups, farmers, organizations and scientist that fight against the import, cultivation and consumption of genetically engineered organisms (also known as GMOs) in our fields and in our dishes. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the illegal entry of GMOs in Bolivia and warn about the consequences that these, together with pesticides, are generating harm to the Health of the people and its environment, as well as the destruction of Bolivia’s traditional agrarian systems. It also denounces the relationship between the powers of the State and the biotechnology industry and the pre-positioning of economic interests before the health of people, Mother Earth and rural communities..