Friday, June 17, 2011

Peru’s GMO-free zone

Peru’s capital declares itself a GMO-free zone
June 16, 2011

LIMA — Peru’s capital Lima declared itself a “GMO-free zone” in a municipal ordinance in response to a controversial government decree that critics feared would see the country flooded with genetically modified organisms.

The city council, lead by Mayor Susana Villaran, officially declared the city of eight million a “territory free of transgenic and genetically modified organisms,” to protect the population’s health and preserve biodiversity and the environment.

Similar measures have already been enacted in other parts of the country in response to an April 15 decree regarding “biosafety,” which Peru’s Minister of Agriculture, Rafael Quevedo, said was only intended to regulate entry procedures for GMOs among various government agencies responsible for biodiversity.

Several cities in addition to Lima as well as agricultural groups, agronomists and doctors denounced the government decree when it was was published in April.

The declaration comes one week after the legislature approved a law that put in place a ten-year moratorium on imports of genetically modified cultures and seeds into Peru, unless they are to be used for research purposes.

The moratorium must still be approved by President Alan Garcia, who can send it back to Congress for changes before he leaves office on July 28.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, 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.

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