Thursday, June 23, 2011
New transgenics law under fire
June 23, 2011
Bolivian lawmakers on June 18 approved new legislation aimed at protecting food for the country, but critics argue it will lead to an influx of genetically-modified seeds.
The National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qollasuyo, an indigenous umbrella organization, urged President Evo Morales to veto two articles in the law, which was passed by the Senate, following approval in the lower chamber, because it would give power to the multinational genetically-modified seed and fertilizer companies to overrun indigenous communities with their products.
While the food safety and sovereignty law bans the import of genetically-modified seeds for crops that are native to Bolivia, or those that pose risk to the country’s ecosystem or the population’s health, it allows controlled entry and sale of non-native crops, such as soy, rice, sugar and sorghum.
Isaac Ávalos, head of the ruling Movement to Socialism party, defended the legislation, which he says favors campesino, indigenous, small- and large-scale farmers because it aims to improve food production with expanded loans and support such as machinery.
He said that the genetically-modified seeds will be subject to government studies and approvals, as well as regulations before they can be admitted into the country.
Bolivia has grown genetically-modified soy for more than a decade. This variety is estimated to account for more than three-quarters of the country’s soy production.