Stop the importation of any GMOs until proper process and public consultation are carried out!

Dear Editor,

I have recently been informed that our government has approved the first test trial of Genetically Modified Organisms by some Mennonites in Spanish Lookout with some oversight by CARDI.

I would assume that the GMO seed in question is most likely BT Corn. I have seen no official reports on this matter, but it is so incredibly important that I feel I must write to you at the Amandala so that the people of Belize can be protected from this threat.

Government approved the National Biosafety Policy in 2009, and under that policy, the alleged current approval to import GMO seed does not meet the basic qualifications.

Under the National Biosafety Policy, a scientifically rigorous and sound risk assessment must be carried out before allowing the importation of GMO’s. Given the many dangers that have already been proven to exist with BT Corn, including environmental dangers, lower crop production, loss of our local corn as BT corn cross-pollinates it, production of BT resistant pests, and increase levels of toxins in mothers’ breast milk, I find it near impossible to believe that scientific studies have been carried out in Belize that might refute these many well-known problems.

Also, under the National Biosafety Policy, public consultations must be held as part of the decision making process. If the decision was already made, then it is clear this requirement has not been carried out.

The policy sets up a National Biosafety Council, which is to make decisions with respect to the production, importation and use of GMO and GMO-derived products in Belize. The Council shall be comprised of technical representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Natural Resources and Environment, regulatory agencies/bodies involved in agricultural health, food safety and standards, international and regional organizations, the NGO community, civil society and the private sector.

The Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) is the national competent authority for biosafety in Belize. I call on the Council and BAHA to respond to the public, to inform us of these and any activities relating to GMOs, and to stop the importation of any GMOs until proper process and public consultation are carried out.

Mark Miller
Plenty Belize
Punta Gorda Town