San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Activists Threaten to Destroy GMO Crops

AS the debate over genetically modifiedorganisms (GMOs) heats up in CostaRica, the President’s son – a committedenvironmentalist – this week threatenedto destroy crops of the controversial technology.Fabián Pacheco and other environmentalistsare demanding a moratoriumin Costa Rica on the growth of GMOcrops. The activist said Wednesday at aroundtable discussion on the proposedmoratorium that they are not just askingfor a moratorium, they are calling a moratorium.They will not allow the growth ofmore genetically modified crops and willdestroy those that exist, he said.In addition to Pacheco, the roundtablefeatured Environment and EnergyMinister Carlos Rodríguez, who said hesupports the moratorium (TT, Oct. 22),and Pedro León, director of the NationalCenter for High Technology (CENAT),who said he opposes it.The moratorium proposal was presentedto the National Commission onBiosecurity, which is working to create anational framework on how to approachthe GMO question (TT, April 2, 23).GMOs, also known as transgenics,are crops that have been genetically modifiedby scientists to exhibit certain traits,such as resistance to disease or herbicides.Opponents suggest the technologypresents unknown health and environmentalrisks. They maintain normalcrops, and especially those grown organically,will be contaminated by the spreadof genetically modified pollens.Rodríguez said he supports the moratoriumnot because he entirely backs theassertions made by transgenic opponents,but because a growth of GMOs should behalted while the country determines itspolicies on the subject.León said no scientific evidence hasproven GMOs have done any harm to theenvironment or consumers’ health, aftermore than 12 years of studies.He did say he is very concerned aboutthe fact that producers of transgenic seedsare the same vendors of herbicides usedon transgenic products.For example, GMO-giant Monsantoproduces genetically modified productsthat are “Roundup Ready,” meaning theyare resistant to the herbicide the companyproduces. Problematic weeds – and allother species – are killed without affectingthe Roundup Ready plants.

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