Peru: Ban on GMOs comes into effect
Teobaldo Pinzas, director of ETC Andes: 'The experience of the struggle of Peruvian civil society against the powerful corporations that produce and commercialize GMO seeds is a good example of what can be achieved when different sectors of civil society and other stakeholders find ways to act jointly for a common objective.' How was this victory achieved?
The start of the movement
Over the last 30+ years, chicken has become the main meat in the diet of Peruvians. Large scale chicken farms demand large amounts of maize for chicken feed, about half of which is imported GM maize. Importation complements national production, that satisfies only about 50% of internal demand. This GM maize was originally not meant to be used as seed, but it turned out that in certain zones of the country, rural people were cultivating GM maize using the seed from the imported chicken feed. This discovery in 2007 reached the media and initiated a debate about the desirability of importing GM seed into the country, among other things due to the risk of cross-pollination of the many native maize species, and the safety measures that ought to be put in place.
Peru's official position
Peru’s official position on GMO was ambivalent. In 2000 Peru had signed the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, an international agreement on biosafety that supplements the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, but the Peruvian delegation had voted against making the corporations responsible for the negative impacts of GMO. The Cartagena Protocol was promulgated in 2004 but legislation to promote modern biotechnology, that authorized the imports and cultivation of GM seeds was being prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, with participation of scientific advisors since several years before the 2007 discovery. The draft legislation opened up a heated debate with Peruvian civil society and researchers, academics, consumer organizations and health workers.
A consortium of organizations named Peru Free of Transgenics Platform, that included the National Association of Ecological Producers -ANPE, organised in 2007 a forum on the risks of GMO for agricultural biodiversity that attracted the attention of the media. In the following months the platform and several other organizations issued public pronouncements and carried out a campaign of information about the risks of GMO, that included presentations in radio programmes and TV talkshows and visits of dissemination of information to different regions. Various daily papers, even some known for their conservative stance on political issues, also expressed opposition to the introduction of genetics.
The head of the newly created Ministry of the Environment expressed his opposition to the introduction of GMO. Different regional governments declared their regions “GMO free territory”. But maybe the coup de grace was given by the organization of chef cooks, whose leader then formulated clearly the reasons for being against GMOs and even debated with specialists about the risks that transgenics pose to Peru’s mega-biodiversity, that provides the material basis for a diversified and rich gastronomy. In 2012, the Peruvian congress approved a ten year moratorium to the introduction of GM seeds into the country.
- Eurasia Review: Transgenics Moratorium Goes Into Effect
- Andean Air Mail & Peruvian Times - Ten Year Ban on Genetically Modified Seeds and Foods Takes Force Thursday
- LAB-Peru: A 10-year ban on GMOs
- Website of AgriCultures Network member ETC Andes