GMO Corn planted in Belize for our market
(from Facebook by M.S. DeShield)
It is confirmed that permission was given by the Ministry of Agriculture to bring in GMO corn to plant as a trial. This is the first time Belize will be planting gmos as far as I know. Thee are many questions to be asked of the current government regarding this move which is in contradiction to government policy enacted in 2009 which placed a 5 year moratorium on planting gmos. That policy followed almost three years of discussion and public consultation throughout the country - Belmopan, Belize City, Stann Creek and Orange Walk. All agriculture imports are required to receive an import permit from BAHA. This trial was permitted by the Ministry of Agriculture without a BAHA permit. A BAHA permit would have required a risk analysis prior to importation. Why was this not done? Risk analysis would most likely take into consideration the following: Who is liable if there are adverse effects because of this importation? What is the risk to small farmers with this importation? What is the risk to organic farmers with this importation? What is the risk to niche markets with this importation? Does Belize have the capacity to monitor this production keeping in mind the constraints placed upon farmers by the seed producers (biodiversity corridors, no replanting of seed) Was this importation reported to the wider international community. Belize is signed on to the Cartagena Protocol and is required by law to communicate its policies and actions regarding GMOs. What markets will Belize lose as a result of this importation? Who stands to benefit from this importation? There are many studies to show that weed resistance to glyphosate occurs within a few years of the use of Round-up Ready Corn - in fact there is a considerable anxiety about the super-weeds being produced. Additionally, Belize does not have in place labeling laws regarding GMOs. How will government protect consumers who do not want to eat genetically modified food? Recent scientific studies are finding Bt toxin from gm corn in mothers' breastmilk in the US. Bt is a toxin that with gm technology is made part of the corn plant. When we eat that gm corn we ingest the toxin. Studies show that toxin is remaining in our blood stream and is even passed to infants in breastmilk. Research conducted by Prof. Don Huber of Purdue University and provided to the Sec. of Agriculture in the US, Tom Vilsack, alerted the USDA to the increase of morbidity and abortions in cattle fed gm corn. That research pointed to a loss of nutrition in gm corn. In spite of warnings to the USDA the US continues to push gm products, even as the public there becomes more wary of their food supply. Of note is the close relationship between agro-business and government: most of the persons in authority in the USDA worked for the major agro-chemical company, Monsanto. The regulation of agriculture is in bed with the business it regulates there. Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Syngentics sink millions of dollars marketing their various products and lobbying the US government. At a recent lecture I attended, Dr Roger Beachy, Director of the US National Institute of Food and Agriculture stated clearly the policy of the US is to push the export of gm products. Developing countries are the target. I may be wrong, but my strong feeling is Belize is opening Pandora's Box. A recent international conference in South Africa which included agrobusiness in the discussion ended their sessions with the statement that agriculture sustainablity worldwide lies with non-gmo small farmers. So why does Belize decide to grab hold of a sinking ship? That is an interesting question. We need answers from CEO Gabino Canto and CAO Eugene Waight.