By Heather Callaghan, Natural Blaze
The NGO, SOS MAIZ BOLIVIA has reported that genetically engineered Roundup Ready maize has been found growing illegally in the Bolivian village of Charagua, in the south of Santa Cruz department.
The illegal intrusion was discovered on March 17 2017, when “an expedition of agronomists, sociologists, economists and journalists organized by SOS MAIZ BOLIVIA went to the village and performed a scientific test that detected the GM maize (watch the video in Spanish here)” reports GM Watch.
Representatives of the NGO, Bolivia Free of Transgenics sent complaint letters to government institutions, objecting the government’s non-compliance with their official obligations to oversee import, cultivation and commercialization of GE corn in South American country.
SOS MAIZ BOLIVIA saying that this negligence has put the seeds’ genetic of the country at risk as well as the nation’s health, stated:
The cultivation of transgenic maize is prohibited by law through a series of decrees and regulations including the Constitution in its article 255 and Act No. 144 of the Production Revolution. In addition, eight other regulations relating to consumer rights, food labelling and international treaties are being breached.
For thousands of years the native communities of Bolivia have depended on maize for their survival, enjoying free possession of and exchange of seeds, which is a determining factor to ensure food… security and food sovereignty of peoples. Among the State institutions notified are SENASAG (National Service for Agricultural Safe an Food Health) and Iniaf (National Institute of Agricultural and Forestry Innovation).
Rodrigo Lampasona, communications officer for SOS MAIZ BOLIVIA, said,
For many years there have been rumours saying that transgenic maize was being illegally introduced from Argentina by smugglers. This would be mainly Bt corn resistant to a pest know locally as ‘gusano (worm) cogollero’ but, as was revealed in the recent study, also RR maize resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup Ready herbicide, composed mainly of glyphosate, which has been recently listed as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
Additional samples were collected and tested from Charagua markets in a Santa Cruz lab in March 2017, with positive results for GMO corn.
SOS MAIZ BOLIVIA said:
Some sources indicate that the illegal cultivation of transgenic maize in Bolivia already exceeds 30,000 hectares [74,131 acres]. This proves that government authorities such as INIAF and SENASAG are not complying with their legal obligations towards the protection of the seeds genetic heritage of our country and the health of its citizens.
Alejandra Crespo of Bolivia Free of Transgenics said, “The situation is very serious since Bolivia has a great biodiversity and holds 77 native varieties of maize which are inevitably doomed to extinction if they are to be contaminated by transgenic maize. In addition, it is an unacceptable fact that in the markets of Charagua and its environments GM maize is being sold directly for human consumption, thus endangering the health of the population. It is also unacceptable that multinationals seek to control the seeds market and contaminate our non-GM seeds, condemning our communities to depend for life on imported seeds.”
Not only is the transgenic product contaminating the native corn biodiversity in South America, but studies of the long-term health effects of GM corn have not even been tested for human and animal consumption.
Bolivia Free of Transgenics will begin a national and international campaign called “CORN IS MY ROOT”, to stop any imports, marketing and handling of transgenic corn. They will inform people of the dangers of GM corn and will make demands to the government to uphold the Bolivian Constitution and laws that protect “the right of citizens to a healthy life.” They will push for ecological agriculture to protect native lands from the destructive forces of Big Agri.
Press Release: GM Watch
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