Fighting GMOs: A Global Fight

Fighting GMOs: A Global Fight

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By Ecoven *

The fight against the use of GMOs is taking place around the world because they consider that these are not only harmful to the health of peoples but also that they seek to control biodiversity, dismantle peasant and indigenous economies and take over human knowledge.

Last Friday, January 11, a statement from the Office of the French Prime Minister, François Fillon, announced the decision to activate the European safeguard clause on the cultivation of genetically modified corn Monsanto MON810, the only Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) authorized in France (se cultivated on 22,000 hectares). This clause is being used by 6 European countries to provisionally prohibit the cultivation or commercialization of a GMO in the European Union. The governments of Austria and Hungary have been using it specifically against the same MON810 maize, respectively since 1999 and 2005, as European legislation does not allow a blanket ban on GMO crops.

However, this decision amounts to temporarily suspending the cultivation of GMOs in France, and put an end to days of speculation about the action of the Sarkozy government. Thus, France joins the growing list of countries that oppose GM crops.

Although it has not been easy to make such a decision because the pro-GMO lobby took advantage of the controversy that arose in France over the GMO evaluation to launch a strong offensive, the transnational Monsanto reacted through a statement ironically entitled “An evaluation process that raises 'serious doubts' ".

Finally, on the night of the 11th, the government announced the decision to use the safeguard clause, in application of the precautionary principle, without managing to put an end to the controversy within its political field. Logically, some deputies linked to the interests of intensive agriculture and agricultural biotechnologies rose up against the government's decision.

While José Bové, Ségolène Royal, and the Greenpeace and France Nature Environnement associations welcomed the government's decision, the President of the National Assembly Bernard Accoyer (UMP) denounced the launch of “a new hunt for heretics”: “It is not to ignore the precautionary principle, but to base our decision on reason, to authorize or prohibit, on the basis of irrefutable scientific arguments ”, he declared. A group of deputies from the ruling UMP party strongly criticized the Prime Minister on the occasion of a “hot” debate in the National Assembly, according to the terms of the president of the parliamentary group Jean-François Copé. The Minister for Research, Valérie Pécresse (UMP), on the contrary, stated that it was a “balanced decision since the President is based on the precautionary principle to suspend the cultivation of MON810”.

However, the activation of that clause is only provisional, and can take months. Furthermore, according to some observers, it could have purely media effects, and does not foreshadow a long-term cessation of GMO cultivation in France. The government, while activating the safeguard clause, announced in effect the investment of 45 million euros for scientific research on biotechnologies. Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier declared on January 14 that "the point of view of the High Authority does not mean that we reject GMOs."

The future of those GMO crops will depend above all on the GMO bill, which will be discussed as of February 5 in the Senate and then in the National Assembly after the municipal elections in March. The Minister of Agriculture hopes that the law will be approved before June of this year.

In Venezuela in 2004, President Chávez made a statement stating that genetically modified crops will be banned on Venezuelan lands, this being probably the most severe restriction on transgenic crops in the entire Western Hemisphere, which will lead to the immediate cancellation of a contract that had been negotiated with the United States-based transnational corporation Monsanto.

Chávez affirmed that genetically modified crops will not be allowed, since they go against the interests and needs of the peasants. He also made reference to the plans of the Monsanto corporation to plant 500 thousand hectares of transgenic soybeans. In this sense, he explained that instead of using these lands for the planting of transgenic crops, they will be used for the plantation of cassava.

Venezuelan and Latin American environmentalists had enough reason to be concerned, as Monsanto has a long history of generating a host of environmental and social problems. Let us remember that it was the producer of the chemical agent orange, which was related to pregnancy loss, memory loss and epileptic-type attacks that affected more than a million people during the Vietnam War. More recently, the company has come under fire for the alleged side effects of its GMO products on human health and environmental well-being.

The fight against the use of GMOs is taking place around the world because they consider that these are not only harmful to the health of peoples but also that they seek to control biodiversity, dismantle peasant and indigenous economies and take over human knowledge. The European Union has so far resisted the use of GMOs despite pressure from the US government.There are also moratoriums in other countries -even in some states of the US and Brazil- where there is a ban on the cultivation of GM products. including the same soy.

As eco-citizens, we are committed to transforming indolence into initiatives for the benefit of all. We have to transform destruction into a dream of life; We can change reality and if we can dream and act at the same time, we can transform what man destroyed. Day by day, let us reaffirm our commitment to life, dignity and the future. That is why we loudly affirm: "NO TO GMOs" because another world is not only possible, but necessary.

2008 - Commitment to life, dignity and the future


Venezuelan Eco-Citizens Movement

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