A hopeful agro-ecological revolution is wrapping the world, in rich and poor countries alike. Civil society groups, grassroots movements, indigenous peoples, progressive intellectuals, scientists and many others are organizing and educating and mobilizing against GM crops.
Biosafety Draft in Puerto Rico is forced to comment on the report cover of the magazine The New Business Day last Sunday June 4th. The report does praise the supposed benefits of the investments of biotech companies in Puerto Rico.
A second article on the subject on page 13 is devoted to agricultural biotechnology, namely GM crops. The writer interviewed a representative of Monsanto in Puerto Rico, Lucy Cruz, who serves as the speech propaganda of the biotechnology industry.
We will not give a detailed presentation on why GMOs are inherently dangerous. This was done by Carmelo Ruiz Marrero, director of the Project on Biosafety, in his book, "Transgenic Ballad" and in more recent writings.
But an offer just a sample: In 2003 a twenty leading scientists from seven countries, covering the disciplines of agro-ecology, agronomy, botany, chemical medicine, ecology, histopathology, microbial ecology, genetics molecular, nutritional biochemistry, physiology, toxicology and virology formed the Independent Scientific Group (Independent Science Panel). This group submitted a detailed report on transgenic products in which argue that "the most serious dangers of genetic engineering are inherent process itself."
Among the findings of the report:
- Contrary to what its proponents claim, there is no evidence that these crops are safe. The regulation is based on an anti-precautionary approach to expedite product approval at the expense of security considerations.
- The biggest dangers of genetic engineering are much-inherent to the process itself.
- There were very few credible studies on the safety of GMOs. However, little information is available concern.
- There is already experimental evidence that transgenic DNA from plants can be absorbed by soil bacteria and the intestines of human subjects.
- It is known that the transgenic DNA can survive the acids and enzymes of the digestive system and jump into the genome of mammalian cells, raising the possibility for Triggering cancer.
- There is a history of misrepresentation and suppression of scientific evidence in order to promote agricultural biotechnology. Key experiments were not performed or were performed badly and then distorted.
- Sufficient evidence has come to light as to raise serious questions about the safety of GMOs. Ignoring this evidence may result in irreversible damage to human health and the environment. Therefore, GM crops should be firmly rejected now.
There are many alternative to spare. There is no need to use GM crops to feed the hungry or for energizing the Puerto Rican economy. There is not even any need to resort to toxic poisons to combat pests or cause any damage to agriculture.
Bangladesh and France, Brazil and South Africa in the United States and Puerto Rico are struggling for food sovereignty, agrarian reform, the preservation of seeds as the heritage of the peoples, and to demonstrate that another future is possible.
This silent revolution is manifested in home gardens, community gardens, farmers' markets, food cooperatives, seed exchanges, movements for food sovereignty and agrarian reform, and the growth of organic agriculture.
Organic agriculture is a set of practices and concepts to link the production of healthy food with environmental protection. It avoids the use of toxic substances such as insecticides and herbicides, which have been scientifically linked to environmental destruction and degenerative diseases in humans.
Those who believe that this type of agriculture is not practical or little more than a niche market expertise, are not adequately documented. Today, 59 million acres worldwide are devoted to organic agriculture, according to Professor Miguel Altieri, an entomologist at the University of California. Nine million of these acres are in Europe: Germany is about eight thousand organic farms, while Italy has about 18 thousand. The European Union and its Member States have specific guidelines to assist and encourage this type of agriculture. It is expected that by 2010 30% to 50% of European agriculture is organic. The global market for organic food reached $ 23 billion in 2002.
"Studies have shown that organic farms can be as productive as conventional ones but without using agrochemicals," says Altieri. "They also consume less energy, while conserving soil and water." The evidence shows that a strong "organic methods could produce food for all, and do not wear one generation to natural resources."
Defenders of industrialized agriculture and the use of GMOs argue that organic agriculture does not provide the income needed to feed the growing world population. But any reduction in yields in organic production is largely offset by advances and ecological efficiency. Investigations by the Independent Scientific Group show that organic agriculture can be commercially viable in the long run and produce more food per unit of energy and resources. In fact, production costs of organic agriculture are often lower than those of conventional agriculture, and bring gains equivalent to or even higher without the usual surcharge for organic products.
"Data show that, over time, the agro-ecological farms are more stable levels of total production per unit area that the high-input systems; they produce favorable returns, provide enough income in proportion to labor costs and other inputs to have an acceptable standard of living for small farmers and their families, and ensure the protection and conservation of soils and enhance biodiversity, "says Altieri.
A study on sustainable agriculture projects in the South found that the overall average food production per household increased by 1.71 tons per year (73%) to 4.42 million agricultors at 3.58 million hectares, providing food security and health benefits to local communities. "It has been shown to increase agricultural productivity increases in food supply and income rises, thereby reducing poverty, increasing food access, reducing malnutrition and improving health and living standards," said Science Group independent.
"The methods of sustainable agriculture are widely used by indigenous and traditional knowledge and emphasize the experience and innovation of the farmer. It therefore uses appropriate local resources, low cost and currently available and also enhances the status and autonomy of the farmers, improving the social and cultural relationships in local communities."
Furthermore, studies show that on average organic foods are higher in vitamin C, they have more minerals and compounds that fight cancer, heart disease and neurological dysfunction associated with aging, and levels are significantly juvenile Nitrates toxic.
"Sustainable agricultural practices have proven beneficial in all aspects relevant to health and the environment. Moreover, they bring food security and social welfare and cultural communities everywhere," says the Independent Scientific Group. "There is an urgent need for a comprehensive global shift to all forms of sustainable agriculture."
More info at:
Draft Biosafety on Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico 00925