GM cotton has been a failure in Colombia
COLOMBIA: The Failure of GM Cotton
Carmelo Ruiz Marrero
Americas Program Biodiversity Report-April 2010
GM cotton has been a failure in Colombia
Genetically modified (GM) cotton from the American biotechnology company Monsanto has been a failure in Colombia, announced the organization Grupo Semillas (http://www.semillas.org.co/). Last March, the Columbian Agricultural Institute (ICA) imposed a fine on Monsanto due to the poor performance of its GM cotton, which caused losses among cotton growers in the 2008/2009 season.
"Seven years after having released the seeds of GM cotton commercially, their failure is evident," declared the Colombian organization in an article circulated by the Network for a Latin America Free of Genetically Modified Organisms (Red por una America Latina Libre de Transgénicos).
"They did not live up to promises of being more productive, nor of reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides, nor the lowering of production costs, nor the generation of greater profits for growers. Monsanto presented GMO technology as the redemption of the cotton industry; in reality it has helped take growers to the bottom of an abyss, especially the small and medium cotton-growers of Cordoba and Tolima, who in the 2008-2009 harvest had enormous losses."
Civil society was not unprepared for this news. In August 2007 the participants of the Latin American Scientific Conference of Agroecology, celebrated that month in AntioquÃa, Colombia, wrote an open letter to the Colombian government rejecting the approval of GM crops in the country.
In the letter, they stated that, "In Colombia, genetically modified corn and cotton will create genetic crosses with native species that will cause genetic degradation or 'superweeds' in the productive agricultural ecosystems; in the same way, cultural tradition, historically the facilitator of national food security, will be vulnerable and ruined by the irresponsible policies of the Colombian state, which measures agricultural activity in terms of productivity and increases social inequality in the Colombian rural sector, forgetting their commitment to national sovereignty starting with food as a fundamental human right."
The signatories were emphatic in condemning supposed educational activities sponsored by the state, believing that they were nothing more than propaganda.
"We reject the conferences that have been developing to misinform public and institutional opinion about the risks of the introduction of GM crops in the Colombian countryside. In these events, so-called 'biosafety workshops,' they claim that GM crops will help resolve the problem of hunger in the country and that their effects on biodiversity are minimal; not recognizing that historically the rural communities have been responsible for providing food to humanity from diverse agricultural production systems and through practices that guaranteed a certain measure of productive sustainability, similarly denying the disastrous effects caused by the introduction of these GMOs at an experimental level in other Latin American countries."
Now, following the failure that had been correctly forecast, Grupo Semillas looks toward the challenges of the future: "The small agriculturalists, peasants, and indigenous are those who have learned lessons from this crisis; they have understood that these GM seeds are not adequate, and in addition annihilate, their productive systems; therefore they are developing multiple strategies to face them. Now the challenge that the growers face is to confront the threats to biodiversity and food security generated by the GM corn seeds that the ICA authorized for cultivation throughout the country in 2007. But today there are even more growers who want to defend our native seeds and do not want GM seeds to enter their territories, their systems of production, and their food."
Network for a Latin America Free of GMOs (Red por una América Latina Libre de Transgénicos), "El fracaso del AlgodÃ³n Transgénico en Colombia," RALLT Bulletin #376, http://www.biodiversidadla.org/Principal/Contenido/Documentos/El_fracaso_del_algodon_transgenico_en_Colombia2.
Seeds of Identity (Semillas de Identidad), "Transgénicos y Derechos Humanos: Carta abierta a la comunidad cientÃfica, académica y empresarial de Colombia," Aug. 30, 2007, http://semillasdeidentidad.blogspot.com/2007/08/transgnicos-y-derechos-humanos-carta.html.
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