Lima to declare itself a GMO-free zone
28 Apr 2011

AFP - The city of Lima plans to declare the Peruvian capital a "GMO-free zone" after a controversial government decree that critics fear will see the country flooded with genetically modified organisms.

Several municipalities in addition to Lima -- a city of more than eight million inhabitants -- as well as agricultural groups, agronomists and doctors have denounced the decree, which was published earlier this month.

Deputy Mayor Eduardo Zegarra said he hopes the GMO-free ordinance will be approved "as quickly as possible" by Lima's new socialist administration.

"We are not going to allow the entrance of GMO seeds. With this declaration Lima is saying not to experimentation with GMO seeds. It's a precautionary measure, to preserve our biodiversity, after this surprising decree."

Peru's Minister of Agriculture, Rafael Quevedo, played down the April 15 decree and said it was only intended to regulate entry procedures for GMOs among various government agencies responsible for biodiversity.

"It's a regulation which tries to eliminate errors, control the use of genetically modified organisms, and make sure they don't come into the country if they are found to be a risk," he said.

Experimental corn crops for humans using genetically modified seed are expected at some point in Peru, but genetically modified plants, especially soya and corn, are already imported for livestock use. By law, foods containing GMO's must be labelled as such.

In a statement, the Agriculture Ministry noted that Peru is one of the world's largest exporters of organic food, including coffee and cocoa, with $3 billion a year in revenues and 40,000 certified producers.