Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Agriculture, Miscellaneous » Genetically modified corn in Belize
Oct 5, 2011

Genetically modified corn in Belize

Dean Barrow

The debate over the local introduction of genetically modified organisms remains ongoing between those who support the GMOs and others who are out rightly against its introduction into Belize. It is known that GMO corn seeds were imported into the country earlier this year without a mandatory risk assessment being conducted. Red flags immediately went up about the invasive nature of the seeds’ growth which could consume fields in southern Belize, directly impacting the livelihoods of the Mayas in Toledo who produce corn for subsistence purposes.  The intention was to plant the kernels in six individual plots measuring fifteen by twenty feet under heavy security against theft. But that won’t happen because the seeds are to be destroyed. Today Prime Minister Dean Barrow told News Five Cabinet did not approve the importation and that a committee has been organized to study the potential effects that growing GMOs would have on other natural plant species.  According to P.M. Barrow there is no urgency in introducing GMOs in Belize.

Dean Barrow

“I personally don’t know enough that is why a committee was appointed, a bio-safety committee comprised of the experts.  They will have to make the recommendations to government and then we will have to look at what they have to say, what the evidence is in support of whatever position they are recommending and take a decision.  Until that time there will be no experimental plots utilizing the GMO corn seeds.  Government took no decision, as was wrongly reported, to encourage that, to sanction that, to in fact give the go ahead and so the seeds that were procured as a consequence of somebody going around government will now be destroyed.  That is not to say that the bio-safety committee must not still look at the issue and come up with a recommendation but obviously they are trying to do this as a very careful comprehensive exercise and we agree with them.  There is no rush.  There is no urgency.  There is no immediacy so they must take their time, look at the thing thoroughly, give us the recommendations and then Cabinet will go from there.”

The Department of the Environment has strongly objected to the actions of the Ministry of Agriculture, under its C.E.O. Gabino Canto, in permitting the importation of GMO seeds.  Dr. Michael Deshield of the Belize Agricultural Health Authority has also raised concerns about the introduction of the seeds, citing that the country does not have the appropriate framework in place to facilitate its institution.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

Advertise Here

27 Responses for “Genetically modified corn in Belize”

  1. Edify says:

    Gmo is not a good product to introduce to Belize. If not even the weed killers can destroy these biogenetic plants, then can you imagine the different types of cancers waiting to invade the Belizean people’s body. If in doubt, then watch documentaries on Food Inc., Chow Down,and Dirt The Movie Hulu .com The bio genetically generated species are the main cause of cancer in Belize.
    Say hell no to all biogenetically products and keep Belize from these cancer causing products.
    Yu noh start nun dere won’t be any!

  2. Victoria says:

    These genetically corn seeds are filled with chemicals, no way they are natural. we need to keep our local and 100% natural and organic fruits and vegetables in our country.

  3. Marie says:

    We dont want our children to start showing up with birth defects in 20 years PM-GMO stay out-if the pests kill the corn, let the farmer plant over-GOB is not there to help them make more profit-survival of the fittest (corn and farmer)-not survival of the corn that poisons all other living organisms by an unfair advantage that made it easier for him to place on table, some great perfect looking corn filled with scientifics.

  4. me says:

    Under NO GOD DAMN circumstances should they do this!!!

  5. roska says:

    Please my fellow belizeans….. educate yourself about a topic BEFORE commenting…. we are sounding like the paid fanatic, clowns (both red and blue) in the 9th ammendment consultations….!!!

    GMO’s have BOTH great benefits and disadvantages….. and that nonsense that it causes cancer is not a proven scientific fact…. and definitely they dont have that “invasive nature”.. on the contrary the seeds produced are generally NOT viable (so that the farmers have to continuously be purchasing the seeds from the companies producing it).. but YES some of them can be toxic to BEES and may wipe out an apiary quite quick….

    READ SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS AND MAGAZINES…. by now we should know that NOT all that is shown on TV and INTERNET is a scientific fact…. What is published in these journals and magazines have been scrutinized by TRUE SCIENTISTS THAT ARE EXPERTS IN THE FIELD!!

  6. Ernest says:

    I agree with Edify. Watch Food Inc. There is no need to introduce test tube seeds into Belizean agricultural culture. I will not eat anything that is GMO. This is a big NO NO!!!

  7. dunfedup says:

    hate to tell all you that have stuck your head in the sand; you are consuming GMO food. The world is so full of this product that there is no way not to get it in any imported food from anywhere. Keep sticking your head in the sand and we will all go hungry. This mentality will only make us poorer and more hungry in years to come. Couple this with the BMDC’s right to import products at its sole discretion, and making the local farmers more despondent in their efforts, looks like we may be hungry sooner than we think as growing anything in this country is getting more difficult all the time. If you don’t want GMO-then stop importing food completely and see how soon we will be ready to accept what all the large economies have embraced. How do these little economies like Belize think they can make a better informed decision than all those with huge $ for this type of research. Myopism at its worst!

  8. Mel says:

    NO! NO! NO NOOOOOOOOOOOO! To GMO. It is very important that we keep the corn we have and not introduce this GMO. The economic disadvantages from GMO will affect every Belizean but it will affect the Mayas most. Not to mention our already failing health care system cannot support additional health disorders that can and will be brought on by the use of GMO’s. Please say NO to GMO!

  9. Mel says:

    And yes the companies / or investors that would benefit from GMO will promote it and give tell you benefits but they will not tell you the bad things that their product can cause and will cause. NO

  10. Lucas says:

    When it comes to scientific investigation, one must always be opened minded having foremost in mind, that the piper plays the music paid for. If not, funds are with-held or withdrawn. I attended a Public Health conference in Southern California earlier this year and one of the topics discussed was GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS ( GMO). Those against GMOs cited scientific evidence of its negative impact on the human genes and thus not fit for human consumption and gave examples of health problems in countries such as India and Bangladesh where GMO are consummed. It was cited that the problem itself is not in the modification of the organism but in reaction to the modification. Therefore, more scientific investigation was needed and until them, consumption was not recommended. Thus in favor cited the problem of feeding the world growing population. That it produces a more abundance crop and is cheaper. Now; we as a people must keep in mind that no GOVT has the welfare of its people as a priority but, their political survival and in the process make a few BENGAMITES( hundred dollar bill). Sad but true, govts have allowed and will continue to allow their people to be used for scientific experiment. For example in the 1950′s, the Govt. of Guatemala allowed its people to be injected with STD in the name of science and was kept a secret until recently when U.S. State depart. head (Mrs. Hillary Clinton) disclosed it. The people of Belize should sleep with their own eyes and wide opened. Especially our Maya borthers and sisters. By the way, the experiment was to be done in Toledo. Does it say something? ( Lucas Cocom: Masters in Public Health. Licensed Health Education Specialist.)

  11. Elgin Martinez says:

    It’s all about personal gain for this PM.Why not consult with the Belizean people?Insted this dictator just want to impose bs on the people?

  12. ragga says:

    belizeans please stick to the evil you know. even if you read scientific journals you will not understand a thing and those journals get paid to publish all kind of things in their journals. stick to the evil you know.

  13. C, says:

    I used to work in a renown org. in Bze. Mennonites have been importing GMO corn since 2004. I have the files. No lies…One container the first one that came in was supposed to reach spanish lookout but it disappeared on the way…nobody knows where it went…

  14. jma says:

    I agree with roska. People here in Belize like to believe the first they heard about someone or something especially if its bad. They don’t even try to find out and do their own thinking for once.

  15. J.R. Writer says:

    NO to GMO. Scientists always say something is safe and the n later on “discover” that it is not safe. The risk regarding GMO is too great. Supposed after a few years or decades the soil becomes permanently infertile? The risk outweighs the advantages or potential advantages.

  16. From the West says:

    Corn prices are through the roof this year, so every one should expect chicken prices to go up considerably in a years time. So we can choose between eating GMO like most of the rest of the world, or eat like a king and pay through our nose. All those against GMO better not complain when chicken prices will go up by 50% in the next few years.

  17. Mr Perez says:

    GMO foods are very dangerous and has caused serious problems in many countries. It is dependent on people like Monsanto and their products to keep it alive and makes small farmers suffer and die.
    Belize doesn’t need GMO and it should be blocked!

  18. Mr Perez says:

    I knew this would happened when the US volunteers came in to “help” agriculture in Belize. I could have prophecied this! Trust me!

  19. subKonshus says:

    “When fish come from riva bottom and tell you aligator have belly ache, believe ah”…. All those in doubt, all those who want to remain open minded, all those talking about “Educate yourselves”, Here is a link to a personal testimony from someone who worked at the Monsanto Facility. This information will remove all doubt, close your minds and educate you about GMO.

    “Monsanto Whistleblower Says Genetically Engineered Crops May Cause Disease”

    Roska this shout out is especially for you!

  20. Earl Grey says:


  21. ladymatura says:

    WEll – i want to know who will witness the destruction and what will be doen abotu teh seeds that were reportedly intentionally and misleadingly given for free to some southern farmers – who di dnto knwo abotu GMO and who coudl eb unintentionally be contaminating our crops… I hope that committee does not come back with some nonsense recommendation that we go ahead with this.. lets keep our eyes opened!

  22. Farmer1279 says:

    This is a big concern to me. Monsanto is not out for the good of a nation but for their own financial gain. GMOs have caused major problems in India, Mexico, USA, Canada just to name a few. GMO corn for example will cross with other non-GMO corn and will reproduce unlike hybrid seed. Many times they use a virus in the modifying process. I personally refuse to buy GMO due the the health hazards from lab experiments. Look up Jeffery Smith’s Seeds of Deception and videos on Youtube. There are numerous other documentaries on the subject also. The risk is too great. Monsanto has sued and put out of business farmers whos crops were contaminated by a neighbouring field.

  23. straightup says:

    Before making stupid comments such as “cancer causing, deformed babies, loaded with chemicals” Belizeans must research and expand thier knowledge. Intelligently, I cannot say ” no to GMO’s.” That is a blanket statement. It must looked at on a case by case basis. The individual who says no to GMO’s is saying no to insulin. Did you know that insulin is a GMO? Yes! insulin that keeps millions of people alive is a GMO. I hope that persons commenting nonsense on GMO’s are not diabetics or insulin dependent … or he/ she will surely die.
    My final comment: GMO’s must be looked at on a case by case basis!!!

  24. Diehard Belizean says:

    Another big foot in their mouth and as usual when these ministers blunder.. hurray.. there comes Barrow to try to clean their stupidities. Poor man, I can only imagine how his sugar rises when these &^# try to do gross things to the unknowing Belizeans, but thanks to someone who is watching we get to know..otherwise, fellow Belizeans, we would never know.

    This thing about GMO is a modern colonialism of smaller countries by super-rich multi-national companies who only think of making millions of $$$$$$$$$ and controlling the rest of humanity. These people still think people like us in small countries are wild, fools and idiots.

    Of course these companies pay shameful “experts” to extol the goodness of GMO but never tell of the long-term negative effects. With time all the natural species will be totally erased and THEN we will be controlled by the seeds that these companies will sell. Of course these big companies and governments have collections of native seeds saved up. It all boils down to CONTROL,my people. Wake up and do not side with these neo-colonialists and modern slave masters.

  25. Henry says:

    comment on C’s comment:
    Either C is lying outright, or all corn in Belize is already contaminated by GM since 2004.

    J.R Writer supposes that maybe the soil will become infertile in a few years or decades. So by that we should try to produce now while we still can. There is no better way to increase yield and quality then by going GM. And this GM has nothing to do with Monsanto.

  26. Tanisha says:

    Belize depends largely on imported food from the US…we all have the mentality that whatever we import from the US is “good”. Not knowing that most of what we consume is genetically modified.

    It is sad that majority of Belizeans are uneducated about GMO’s, it is even more sad that those who do get educated regarding genetic engineering have to depend on outside information that we don’t even know is credible.

    I hope and envison the day where Belize can put out its own scientist to conduct its research and then come to us and say ” you know what my follow Belizeans, here are the true hard facts about GMOs”

    From then, as a country we can move forward without having foreign countries using us for there scientific tests because we are all ignorant.

    Belize has some very intelligent minds with the potential that just needs to be nurtured.

  27. Tom McKinney` says:

    World needs UN GMO watchdog – Russia
    Published time: June 05, 2014 13:22
    Russian lawmakers advocate creation of an international UN agency not only to strictly control the turnover of GMO products worldwide, but with a top priority mission to scrutinize how consuming GMO foods would affect human health in the long run.
    Aggressive distribution of GMO worldwide is raising huge concerns for human health, said Russian Federation Council speaker Valentina Matvienko.
    The speaker urged the executive branch to make a request to the UN General Assembly to initiate the creation of an international GMO watchdog.
    “It’s absolutely clear that the GMO problem is a global issue,” Valentina Matvienko said.
    The speaker of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament also spoke in favor of facilitating production of organic food in the country as “the volumes of imported agricultural goods and food remain substantial,” Matvienko said.
    Russian authorities are taking measures to contain uncontrollable spread of GMO foods against the background of regular worldwide mass rallies over the distribution of GMO products created by transnational corporations, such as Monsanto.
    In the US, where agricultural producers are not obliged to mark their products if they contain GMO-originated ingredients, people stage large protests, claiming that from 80 to 95 percent of the American population would want to have GMO foods labeled.
    In Russia, where parliament is seeking a moratorium on GMO production, the situation with GMO consumption has not yet developed into a serious problem, though membership in the WTO has opened up the Russian market for GMO products.
    In April, Russia’s prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, told the country’s parliament that Russia could be self-sufficient with organic foods only, without allowing GMO food production.
    A draft law submitted to the Russian parliament seeks to impose punishment up to criminal prosecution to producers of genetically-modified organisms harmful to health or the environment.
    On Thursday, the Federal Service for Consumer Rights and Human Welfare Protection presented a draft bill that would fine producers and resellers of food products containing GMO if they fail to mark it properly with ‘GMO inside’ mark.
    Russian citizens do no welcome the products containing GMO either.
    According to the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center, a survey taken on May 24-25 in 42 regions of the Russian Federation found that 54 percent of respondents would not buy food marked with a “GMO inside” label.
    A majority of Russian citizens would prefer organic food to its genetically modified counterpart, even if that one is considerably cheaper (74 percent), packed in a more attractive manner (76 percent) or has a longer expiry date (78 percent).
    Russian citizens also distrust artificial additives to food, such as preservatives (50 percent), food coloring (40 percent), flavor enhancer (33 percent) and antioxidants (31 percent).
    Only 10 percent of respondents agreed to definitely buy GMO food, which has these ingredients.

    GMO producers should be punished as terrorists, Russian MPs say
    Published time: May 15, 2014 12:47
    Edited time: May 16, 2014 11:13
    A draft law submitted to the Russian parliament seeks to impose punishment up to criminal prosecution to producers of genetically-modified organisms harmful to health or the environment.
    The draft legislation submitted on Wednesday amends Russia’s law regulating GMOs and some other laws and provides for disciplinary action against individuals and firms, which produce or distribute harmful biotech products and government officials who fail to properly control them.
    At worst, a criminal case may be launched against a company involved in introducing unsafe GMOs into Russia. Sponsors of the bill say that the punishment for such deeds should be comparable to the punishment allotted to terrorists, if the perpetrators act knowingly and hurt many people.
    “When a terrorist act is committed, only several people are usually hurt. But GMOs may hurt dozens and hundreds. The consequences are much worse. And punishment should be proportionate to the crime,” co-author Kirill Cherkasov, member of the State Duma Agriculture Committee told RT.
    Russian criminal code allows for a punishment starting with 15 years in jail and up to a life sentence for terrorism.
    Less severe misdeeds related to GMOs would be punishable by fines. For instance the administrative code would provide for up to 20,000 rubles (US$560) in fines for failure to report an incident of environmental pollution, which would also cover harmful GMO contamination, if sponsors of the bill have their way.
    Russia gave the green light to import of GMOs and planting of bioengineered seeds as part of its accession to the WTO, but the Russian government remains skeptical of GMOs. In April, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that his cabinet will postpone the beginning of certification of GMO plants for growth in Russia due to lack of proper infrastructure needed to test their safety.
    The government also opposes imports of GMO food, saying the country has enough farmlands to provide enough regular food to feed itself.
    But the new draft legislation, even if adopted, would be difficult to enforce in practice. Proving a direct link between certain GMOs and health or environmental problems could be difficult, considering that harmful effects, if they manifest, may take years to become apparent.
    Critics of the draft bill also point out that it fails to suggest amendments to laws regulating textile production and pharmaceutical industry, both of which have been using genetically-altered products for years.
    “The global pharmaceutical industry uses GMOs much wider than food industry does. And there is the question, who should be punished in this case – producers of medicines which are used to treat people, or those who want to ban them,” commented Aleksandr Korbut, vice-president of the Russian grain union, to Izvestia newspaper.

    It’s Official – Russia Completely Bans GMOs
    April 15, 2014 by Arjun Walia. 36 Comments.
    Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recently announced that Russia will no longer import GMO products, stating that the nation has enough space, and enough resources to produce organic food.
    If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.” – Medvedev
    Russia has been considering joining the long list (and continually growing) of anti-GMO countries for quite some time now. It does so after a group of Russian scientists urged the government to consider at least a 10-year moratorium on GMOs to thoroughly study their influence on human health.
    “It is necessary to ban GMOs, to impose moratorium (on) it for 10 years. While GMOs will be prohibited, we can plan experiments, tests, or maybe even new methods of research could be developed. It has been proven that not only in Russia, but also in many other countries in the world, GMOs are dangerous. Methods of obtaining the GMOs are not perfect, therefore, at this stage, all GMOs are dangerous. Consumption and use of GMOs obtained in such way can lead to tumors, cancers and obesity among animals. Bio-technologies certainly should be developed, but GMOs should be stopped. We should stop it from spreading. ” – Irina Ermakova, VP of Russia’s National Association for Genetic Safety
    A number of scientists worldwide have clearly outlined the potential dangers associated with consuming GMOs. I recently published an article titled “10 Scientific Studies Proving GMOs Can Be Harmful To Human Health,” you can read that in full here. These are just a select few out of hundreds of studies that are now available in the public domain, it seems that they continue to surface year after year.
    Russia completely banning GMOs, such a large, developed nation is a big step forward in creating more awareness with regards to GMOs. Ask yourself, why have so many nations banned GMOs and the pesticides that go with them? It’s because evidence points to the fact that they are not safe, they are young, and we just don’t know enough about them to safely consume them. They just aren’t necessary, so why produce them?
    Within the past few years, awareness regarding GMOs has skyrocketed. Activism has played a large role in waking up a large portion of Earths population with regards to GMOs. People are starting to ask questions and seek answers. In doing so, we are all coming to the same conclusion as Russia recently came to.
    In February, the State Duma introduced a bill banning the cultivation of GMO food products. President Putin ordered that Russian citizens be protected from GMOs. The States Agricultural Committee has supported the ban recommendation from the Russian parliament, and the resolution will come into full effect in July 2014.
    This just goes to show what we can do when we come together and demand change and share information on a global scale. Change is happening, and we are waking up to new concepts of our reality every day. GMOs are only the beginning, we have many things to rid our planet of that do not resonate with us and are clearly unnecessary. We are all starting to see through the false justifications for the necessity of GMOs, no longer are we so easily persuaded, no longer do we believe everything we hear and everything we’re presented with. Lets keep it going!
    For more CE articles on GMOs, click here.
    For more CE articles on glyphosate, click here.

    Monsanto’s GMO Corn are Banned in Russia
    After the release of the French study that linked Monsanto’s GMO corn with horrifying cancer tumors, Russia has now banned all Monsanto’s GMO corn. The study has had its own supporters and critics so the Russian Institute of Nutrition is now fully evaluating the French study.
    Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize
    France Launches Major Investigation Into GMOs Following Tumor Study
    In fact France was one of the very first few countries that banned Monsanto’s rBGH growth hormones and GMOs. Now with Russia joining France in banning Monsanto’s GMO products, there is a high possibility that Monsanto will soon be facing a European ban. Russia’s policy to put a ban on all Monsanto’s GMO corn was a blowback at Monsanto’s recent policies. In the last few years Monsanto has desperately been trying to convince people that genetically modified foods are no different than non-GMO foods.
    In fact, they have even recently tried to use regulatory policies to suggest that GMO foods are safer than traditional foods, but this absurdity has been rejected. Soon after the release of the two-year French study, Monsanto completely disregarded the research and accused the French study of not using enough rats and that the research study duration was not adequate.
    This excuse of short duration of research study was found to be quite ironic since Monsanto’s GMO tests on animals are 90 days or less rather than a realistic assessment of damage to tissues and long-term side effects which takes years of study to establish. Scary enough, the two-year French study showed that the large tumors in rats that were fed GMO corn didn’t accrue until they were adults. This could be really alarming since many children in US are grown on GMO corn and soy. In fact most popular breakfast cereals and infant formulas contain high levels of Monsanto’s GMO corn and soy ingredients.
    Still, the War against the Organic Industry continues by Monsanto, its supports, and financial beneficiaries in the biotech industry.
    A few weeks before the release of the French study on Monsanto’s GMO corn, another study about organic foods was released by Stanford University.
    The oxymoron title of the article was that “organic foods offer fewer health advantages compared to conventional foods”. Later on it was revealed that the co-author of the Stanford study had actually strong family ties to Monsanto.
    Does co-author of Stanford organic study have family ties to pesticide, GMO giant Monsanto?
    Fact-checking against Organic Food
    After the release of the French study, the coordinated verbal assault on the organic industry has grown even more aggressive by Monsanto supporters and beneficiaries. The new baseless accusations suggest that even organic foods contain some levels of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. For instance, it is a fact that organic dairy products are 100% rBGH free and do not have any hormones or antibiotics. It is also a known fact that organic foods is described as foods that are not grown with the use of pesticides, herbicides and/or chemicals. But GMO-Monsanto supporters who clearly know that, wish to MISREPRESENT the FACTS.

    So it is quite normal that you would ask the obvious question … why are the GMO supporters and Monsanto beneficiaries creating equivalency between GMO’s and pesticide-ridden foods and the organic foods that are known to be pesticides-free when it is quite well known that organic foods do not contain hormones, antibiotics and pesticides? The answer is that they wish to create doubt that there is any difference between the two and hope that people would lose their interest in non-contaminated food and the organic industry as a whole. Their aim by making these false and baseless statements of equivalency is to diminish the value of good wholesome foods for our families and convince us all that contaminated food made with GMO strands, DNA mutations, chemicals and pesticides is no different than foods that are made organically.
    Despite the assault against the organic foods and the fact that Monsanto and pesticide companies contributed another $5.5 Million to kill GMO labeling Initiative in California, consumers are becoming more and more aware of the health risks associated with contaminated and GMO foods. The high-profit pesticide and GMO companies know that people’s awareness is going to cost them a fortune in genetically manipulated organism. Monsanto and its GMO beneficiaries as well as the chemical companies are spending a lot of money to kill California Proposition No. 37 to deprive American people of their right to choose.
    These companies have declared war on the American dream … the FREEDOM OF CHOICE – and important and essential right to choose what to feed ourselves and our family with foods that are properly labeled which inform us of potential harmful ingredients that may later cause cancer and/or other illnesses specially for children and infants, pregnant women, older folks, and those with chronic illnesses. It is our RIGHT to choose what we put into our bodies and multi-billion Dollar companies should not be allowed to hide the truth from us and insert chemicals and contaminants into foods without our knowledge.

    Geopolitics of Organic Food: Russia, China and France Ban GMOs
    By Ulson Gunnar
    Global Research, May 02, 2014
    New Eastern Outlook
    Theme: Environment

    Russia’s RT reported in an article titled, “Russia will not import GMO products – PM Medvedev,” that, “Russia will not import GMO products, the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, adding that the nation has enough space and resources to produce organic food.” The article would quote Russia’s prime minister who stated specifically, “if the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.”
    The article would also state that products in Russia containing more than 0.9% genetically modified ingredients must be labeled, as opposed to US laws where no labeling is required for genetically modified products despite steadily growing public opposition to the practice.
    Russia’s stance against GMO is mirrored elsewhere, including in France where just recently Monsanto’s GM corn was banned and in China where the importing of US GM corn has been outlawed. The backlash against GMO has widespread appeal due to well-placed health and environmental concerns among increasingly informed populations. But the drive to push back against GMO in nations like Russia and China also has a geopolitical dimension.
    An Army Marches on Its Stomach
    The biotechnology from which genetically modified organisms are derived, is currently monopolized by a handful of very powerful multinational corporations centered in the West. This monopoly forms (in part) the foundation of Western hegemonic power. As seen in Afghanistan, big-ag monopolies like Monsanto played a pivotal role in the attempted corporate colonization of the South Asian nation. Corporate interests and technology, coupled with Western aid organizations, backed by NATO’s military force, helped transform Afghanistan’s agricultural landscape through the systematic poisoning of traditional crops and their replacement with genetically modified soybeans (a crop previously alien to Afghan agriculture and cuisine).
    The roots Monsanto sank into Afghanistan will be deep and lasting. Farmers dependent on patented genetically modified soybeans will be dependent on Monsanto and other Western biotech/big-ag giants indefinitely, and in turn, so will the people who depend on those farmers for daily sustenance. The very sovereignty of Afghanistan as an independent nation has been undermined at the most basic and fundamental level, its food security which now resides in the hands of foreigners.
    It is clear then that nations like Russia, China, and others are not only responding to growing concern from among their populations regarding the safety and environmental impact of GMO products, but the threat this monopolized technology poses toward each respective nation’s food supply and consequently, their sovereignty.
    Recent sanctions aimed at Russia in the West’s bid to cement regime change in neighboring Ukraine illustrates perfectly just how potentially damaging absolute dependence on Western big-ag corporations can be. Had Russian agriculture been more dependent on Western GMOs, and had the West’s sanctions been across a wider or full spectrum as they are against nations like Iran, the potential survival of Russia’s population could have been put at risk and foreign-backed political instability able to threaten Moscow easily achieved.
    Each Nation a Castle
    Sanctions against Iran have forced the nation to become self-sufficient across a wide spectrum of socioeconomic activity including food production, technological research and development, and weapons development. While the sanctions the West aims at Iran are designed to act as a modern form of siege warfare practiced at a national level, weakening the nation and ultimately contributing to its collapse, they have instead made Iran more resilient.
    Iran has become a proverbial “castle,” weathering the siege by breaking it in some places, and undermining it with self-sufficient economic activity within its borders in other places. Nations like Russia and China, directly confronted by a West openly attempting to encircle both with specified alliances and strategies (NATO and the “pivot toward Asia” respectively), must likewise ensure independence and self-sufficiency across a wide range of socioeconomic activity, with fundamental necessities like food security taking priority.
    Organic farming augmented by modern technology, as suggested by Prime Minister Medvedev has the power to ensure food security for Russia now and well into the future. With growing global demand for healthier, GMO-free food, a national policy leaning toward organic could eventually become an economic advantage beyond Russia’s borders. Other nations, communities, and indeed individuals around the world should look at this basic first step, securing one’s food supply, and understand how it is the key to national, local, and individual sovereignty, as well as a means toward enhancing economic prospects.
    The West’s mega agricultural monopolies seek to infiltrate and overrun national food supplies worldwide, while it aims crippling sanctions at nations it seeks to influence or control geopolitically. A nation made dependent on the West’s mega agricultural monopolies, if ever targeted by sanctions or other means to undermine and overthrow its existing political order, will be particularly vulnerable. Thus, going organic is not just a means to keep a nation’s population healthy and therefore more productive, but also a fundamental means to protect national sovereignty.
    The shortsighted benefits in terms of payoffs from mega agricultural monopolies governments around the world may be tempted by today, might be the leverage used by the West tomorrow to uproot them when their utility is perceived by the West to be exhausted, and new leadership is desired. For nations that believe in the merits of GMO, their people should demand that such technology be developed, implemented, regulated, and monitored indigenously, preempting the multitude of dangers the foreign domination of their food supply poses.
    Ulson Gunnar is a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

    Why does Russia Plan to Stop GMO Cultivation and Imports?
    by Caroline Coatney
    Russia has said a loud and resounding no to GMOs this spring. The country banned the import of GMO food and food products a few months ago. It has also postponed Decree 839 from coming into effect. Currently, no GMO crops are allowed to be grown on Russian soil, excluding those used for research purposes; GMO foods and ingredients can only be imported. Decree 839 would have allowed Russian farmers to cultivate and sell GMOs as long as proper registration procedures were followed. However, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recently announced that the decree’s original effective date—July 1, 2014—has been pushed back by three years due to necessary infrastructure not being ready in time. Medvedev explained that Decree 839 is being delayed “not because it [is] wrong, but because the deadline stipulated in it was too optimistic.”
    These recent decisions have sparked Russian policy envy from anti-GMO advocates from across the world.
    Russia policy envy on twitter.
    The Russian government’s stance on GMOs seems to reflect, at least on the surface, the general attitude of the public. For example, Russian scientists demanded the ban extend for 10 years to allow for thorough research on the effects of GMOs, and 80% of Russian people are squarely in the anti-GMO camp, according to polls. And President Vladimir Putin has publicly stated his support for protecting citizens from GMOs.
    The people want it, the scientists want it, the legislators want it, Putin wants it.
    But not everyone has been so strongly against GMOs. Over the past couple years, the Russian government has had mixed feelings about them.
    For example, there is disagreement among government officials on the supposed threat of GM foods. Irina Ermakova, the vice president of the National Association for Genetic Safety, an anti-GMO NGO, spoke of how “all GMOs are dangerous”, but a spokesperson for the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (which is responsible for the safety and registration of GM animal feeds and feed additives) said there was no evidence, either way, on the safety of GMOs. Dr. Gennadiy Onishchenko, the head of the Rospotrebnadzor (which is responsible for testing, registering, and developing legislation on GM foods and ingredients), expressed positive views of GM crops at an environmental forum in 2013. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture (which is responsible for agricultural biotechnology policy) has stated it is “conservative” about GMOs. There is no unified opinion on GMOs among the three government bodies that make up the Russian GMO regulatory framework—the Federal Service for Veterinary Surveillance and Phytosanitary Surveillance, the Rospotrebnadzor, and the Ministry of Agriculture.
    In April 2012, the Comprehensive Program on Development of Biotechnology through 2020 (BIO 2020) was created with the specific aim of bringing Russia to the forefront of global biotechnology development. Agricultural biotechnology is one of the priorities of the BIO 2020 program, but no funding has yet been provided to support crop biotech research.
    Russia Today is a Russian government-run news site that frequently claims that GMOs are dangerous, often bringing activists like Jeffrey Smith on their programming.
    In September 2013, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed Decree 839, mentioned earlier, that would have allowed the cultivation of GMOs starting this summer. Originally proposed in October 2010, it took nearly three years for it to gain enough momentum and support to be signed into law. Now, only months before its effective date, the decree has been postponed by three years.
    The Russian government’s most public reason for banning GMOs—its citizens’ health—may not be its primary reason. During President Putin’s recent meeting with the Board of the Russian Federation Council, a senator pointed out that, to date, worldwide sales of GM seeds come to $50 million and the owner of the rights to the majority of those seeds is the United States.
    The increasing presence of foreign agricultural biotechnology in Russian grocery stores is viewed not only as a threat to people’s health, but also as a threat to the country’s domestic agricultural production.
    Banning GMO imports, restricting GMO cultivation to research endeavors only, and allowing farmers to only plant GMO-free crops may be Russia’s new strategy to increase agricultural profits. The Deputy Agriculture Minister, Aleksandr Petrikov, stated that the ban could afford Russia large economic gains if the country chooses to become a major global producer of GMO-free products.
    With anti-GMO sentiments sweeping multiple continents, Russia could be looking to position itself to meet international demands as a major supplier of organic foods and ingredients.

Leave a Reply