lunes, abril 28, 2008

Public Sentiment Against GM Crops


(Taken from 'Biotech Bets on Agrofuels

GM organisms contain genetic codes (genomes) that have been altered by genetic engineering-an unprecedented procedure that creates genetic combinations not possible in nature. The main GM products in the U.S. market are corn and soy, which have been genetically modified for resistance to herbicides (usually Monsanto's Roundup) or to pests (known as Bt crops). These crops are used mostly to feed farm animals and to make additives (such as sweeteners and starch) present in most processed foods.

In spite of the upbeat propaganda of the biotechnology companies, broad sectors of society reject GM products, claiming they are neither safe nor necessary. Thousands of protesters from all over the world swamped three United Nations events that took place in southern Brazil almost simultaneously in March 2006: the biennial conferences of the Biodiversity Convention and the Biosafety Protocol, and the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Local Development. Prominent among their demands was a ban on GM crops.

As the meetings and protests took place, activists of the MST, Brazil's landless people's movement, seized a farm in the state of Parana where the Syngenta biotechnology corporation had illegally planted GM corn and soy in the buffer zone of the Iguaçu National Park. On Oct. 21, 2007 armed gunmen violently evicted them, wounding many and murdering 34 year-old Valmir "Keno" Mota de Oliveira, father of three. The MST, Vía Campesina, and countless civil society organizations in Brazil have condemned these acts. They demand that Syngenta take responsibility for the killing, that it be held accountable for its environmental violations, close down its experimental plot, and leave the country.

In February 2007, farmers and animal herders, representatives of civil society groups, social movements, and environmentalists from 17 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe met in Mali to discuss food and farming issues. Together they issued the Bamako Declaration, which, among other things, categorically says NO to genetically modified organisms.

The Bamako Declaration was part of the preparatory process for the World Forum for Food Sovereignty, which took place that same week in Mali. Over 500 men and women from more than 80 countries, and representing organizations of peasants/family farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, landless peoples, rural workers, migrants, pastoralists, forest communities, women, youth, consumers, and environmental and urban movements, drafted the Nyeleni Declaration.

The declaration rejects GM foods: (We fight against) "technologies and practices that undercut our future food-producing capacities, damage the environment, and put our health at risk. These include transgenic crops and animals, terminator technology, industrial aquaculture and destructive fishing practices, the so-called White Revolution of industrial dairy practices, the so-called 'old' and 'new' Green Revolutions, and the "Green Deserts" of industrial bio-fuel monocultures and other plantations."

In March 2008, around 300 women of the MST destroyed a nursery of GM corn seedlings belonging to Monsanto in the southern Brazilian state of São Paulo to protest the government's biosafety council's approval of plantings of GM corn. In the days that followed, some 1,500 women protested in front of several Syngenta properties in the state of Parana.

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