GMO destroyed; all gone?
On Friday, the Scientific Steering Committee of the Belize Agricultural Health Authority issued a press release on the importation of genetically modified corn seeds into the country in mid-August. The release came a week after the destruction of twenty pounds of GMO kernels following instructions given by the government. In the memo, BAHA officials express concerns that there might be farmers who have illegally planted the corn seeds and as a result, an investigation has been launched. Despite not having disclosed their sources, BAHA officials say they received credible information, (quote) “that Cabinet had decided that a permit should be issued for two GMO trials” (unquote). Today News Five spoke with Mark Miller of Plenty Belize who told us that there were indeed two different types of hybrid corn that were imported by a farmer in Spanish Lookout.
Mark Miller, Exec. Dir., Plenty Belize
“From what I’ve seen in the press release it shows that they brought in two different types of GMO corn and these were two different hybrid varieties of corn with the same GMO imbedded in them. So in their release they showed 30K73 and 30S72. Those would be hybrid corn seeds, and then the TC1507 is the GMO trait that was put into those types of corn so that it’s not just corn but corn with an insecticide in it.”
“There have been certain concerns that have been raised with regards to the destruction of the corn seeds a week before. There are some who are of the impression or the belief that not all of it has been destroyed and as a matter of fact some has already been planted. Can you share with us your knowledge of anything to the contrary or confirming what has been raised?”
“I’m not able to confirm one way or the other. I know that there are concerns because the manner in which the seeds were obtained and the manner in which the seeds were destroyed didn’t have enough independent verification to know what was being destroyed was the right thing, and even that what was brought in never moved out before the destruction time. So we can’t really say for certain. I think it’s great in reading this press release that BAHA would collect samples from suspect corn seeds and have it tested at a lab outside of the country as they don’t have a lab to do it here at this time.”
“Do you have an idea more or less who the individual or individuals who were given the green light to go ahead and import GMO corn seeds into the country? Has that been disclosed?”
“I haven’t seen an official document but as I understood it it’s a Mr. Henry Wolfe of Midwest Steel in Spanish Lookout who I also understand sits on the bio-safety panel who was doing the imports. So it was someone who is on the panel, I mean I’m not sure what his affiliation is that brings him on to the panel that was to be the importer who received the approval.”
We have also been unable to confirm whether or not the person identified has indeed planted the GMOs.