Updates from Peru and Brazil
2.Peru to be a "genetically modified free country"?
3.CIVIL SOCIETY PLATFORM TO DECLARE PERU A GM FREE COUNTRY
1.Update from the GM-Free Brazil Campaign
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, October 1 2008
Brazilian commission releases transgenic crops without concern for biosafety
Last week CTNBio (National Biosafety Technical Commission) ensured the delight of the multinationals Monsanto and Syngenta. The Brazilian governmental agency responsible for analyzing requests for the commercial use of GMOs authorized the release of two varieties of transgenic maize and one variety of transgenic cotton. The three varieties are genetically modified to resist glyphosate-based herbicides. The agency also authorized the release of a GM swine vaccine.
Last year the Commission had already released three other varieties of transgenic maize: Liberty Link, a variety developed by Bayer resistant to the Finale herbicide (ammonium gluphosinate), also produced by Bayer; a Monsanto variety, MON 810, Bt type; and another developed by Syngenta, Bt 11, which combines the characteristics of the two previous varieties.
In the first two cases CTNBio's decision ignored health and environmental concerns, which lead the ministries linked to these issues to question the decision at the National Biosafety Council (CNBS). Reinforcing the political direction of the current government, in February of this year the Council merely ratified CTNBio's decisions.
Later in June this year, following concerns presented by the Ministry of Health concerning the safety of Bt 11 maize, the National Council endorsed the authorization granted by CTNBio, once again without evaluating the substance of the raised concerns, a stance that effectively transformed it into a rubber-stamp commission, above good and evil, capable of granting authorizations without any obligation to provide scientifically grounded explanations concerning biosafety.
The difficulty faced last week by one member of CTNBio - representing the Ministry of Agrarian Development with a Ph.D. from the Federal University of Santa Catarina - in presenting his report on one of the maize varieties under analysis reveals the derisory tone that has now taken over the Commission. Significantly, this scientist is one of the few commission members to adopt an independent stance in relation to the biosafety issue.
Four of his colleagues from CTNBio took turns to interrupt his reading and ask him to hurry up and finish. One of them even suggested for his colleague to stop reading and go straight to the last sentence of the report! Isn't it rather strange that a technical commission should display so little interest and patience in hearing a colleague present the technical reasons for his vote?
And why did the Ministry of Agrarian Development vote against the release of two maize varieties last week? Put briefly: because the document presented by Syngenta reported that its transgenic maize (called GA21) is stable, and that the proofs were contained in Appendix 8 of the presented documentation. But curiously, Appendix 8 had been removed from the process and not even CTNBio's members had access to it.
In addition, documentation indicating that laboratory rats fed with this maize variety had presented symptoms of intoxification were removed from the analyses.
During the voting (16 in favour and 4 against), the president of CTNBio appeared to want confirmation that the disappearance of Appendix 8 would not compromise the commission's technical analysis. One of the scientists 'assured' him that even without access to the data concerned, it was possible to verify that the maize is safe. Scientific corroboration came in the voice of another member of the Commission representing the Ministry of Foreign Relations - a university professor and a business entrepreneur in the biotechnology sector - who said that the safety came from the fact that this maize had already been released in other countries.
In the case of the Monsanto cotton, much of the defence of its food safety (the oil from the seeds can be used in food production) was made using data from soya.
The other approved maize, Monsanto's Roundup Ready 2, also presented curious effects in laboratory rats, increasing liver weight by 9%, but these facts were simply ruled unimportant. In addition, despite Monsanto's documentation informing that genetic modification of this maize involves the expression of two proteins, toxicity evaluations were only presented for the first protein - though, even here, the analysis was based on a protein produced by bacteria rather than the protein extracted from the transgenic maize under analysis. This data was presented by an independent expert, but appeared irrelevant to CTNBio.
The lack of rigour (and shame) displayed in CTNBio's procedures, an outcome of the government's political support, is such that during this recent meeting, authorizations for GMO experimental fields were given on the basis of maps provided by the companies that lacked either any scale guides or captions!
Unfortunately, none of this information appeared in the national press, which continues to transmit to the population the idea that "the safety of the product was evaluated by a technical commission formed by specialists."
GM-FREE BRAZIL - Published by AS-PTA Assessoria e ServiÃ§os a Projetos em Agricultura Alternativa. The GM-Free Brazil Campaign is a collective of Brazilian NGOs, social movements and individuals.
AS-PTA an independent, not-for-profit Brazilian organisation dedicated to promoting the sustainable rural development. Head office: Rua da CandelÃ¡ria, 9/6º andar/ CEP: 20.091-020, Centro, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Phone: 0055-21-2253-8317 Fax: 0055-21-2233-363
This article can be found on the AS-PTA website at http://www.aspta.org.br
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2.Peru to be a "genetically modified free country"?
Blog from Peru, 18 September 2008 [shortened]
Antonio Brack, Peru's minister of environment, seems ready to throw his weight behind a declation of Peru as a "pais libre de transgenicos", that is, a country without genetically modified produce.
El Comercio reports* that Brack informed the Peruvian Congress that he will "evaluate quite objectively" the possibility of blocking the introduction of genetically engineered foods in the country while warning against the risks of such products.
The minister believes that the "free country" distinction would ensure that Peru conserves the genetic makeup of its agricultural products, which include "3,000 varieties of potato, 55 of corn and 1,500 of sweet potato", that have been engineering naturally for millennia. Organic farming earns Peru about $160 million in exports, and it appears that Brack thinks that such trade potential will outweigh the proponents of bioengineering in Peru.
Read a Google-translated version of the article here
http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.elcomercio.com.pe%2Fediciononline%2FHTML%2F2008-09-17%2Fel-ministro-ambiente-evalua-declarar-peru-pais-libre-transgenicos.html&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&sl=es&tl=en or visit RPP Noticias to watch a Nova-FRONTLINE segment on the risks of genetically modified foods dubbed in Spanish. Now that's some globalization.
3.CIVIL SOCIETY PLATFORM TO DECLARE PERU A GE FREE COUNTRY
Consumers demands a ban on the liberation of transgenics and the labeling of GE products
After the proposal in the Congress of the Minister of the Environment, Dr. Antonio Brack to declare to Peru as "Free Country of genetically modified", to avoid the risks to the biological diversity and the health of the citizens, the civil company grouped in the platform PERU GE FREE they initiate the campaign supporting this proposal since it is of national interest.
Members of the Platform, Cecilia Mendila, representing the Consumer Organization ASPEC pointed out that “Only labelled GE products should be permitted and because of it, we request the approval by the government of labelling bill of the GE by-products, as well as to declare to Peru as GE free megadiverse and organic country. It shall be promulgated a prohibition of any alive genetically modified organism”
A the same time, Luis Gomero representing RAAA and the SNA called the attention to the declaration of several State officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Congress to allow GE crops for exportation in some isolated regions. In this regards he said that “it is nor technically viable neither socially desirable due to the wide range of ecological, geographical and cultural diversity of the country. An immediate ban should be release to prevent the contamination of our native biodiversity” he said.
The Platform "Peru, GE Free Country” which is promoting this initiative is supported by ASPEC, RAAA, SCRAPES, ANPE, AMP, ASDMAS among others institution. They are collecting more contribution from small producers and of the civil from all other the country’s regions, in relation to the impacts that can generate the introduction of the genetically modified to level of cultivations, animal and food; as well as to promote a campaign of sensitizing and endorsement to this initiative that has been launches by the Minister of the Environment
RAAA boletin@raaa. org
ASPEC: T: 222 8687/ 222 5000; C: 993161625 ; N: 102*8050
RAAA: 3375170 4257955 , celular: 999658944