Cartago Town Declares Itself GMO Free

April 8, 2005

THE town of Paraíso, in the easternprovince of Cartago, has declared itselfthe first transgenic-free territory in CostaRica, by a vote of the Municipal Council.The council passed a motion March 21prohibiting the growth of genetically modifiedorganisms (GMOs), also called transgenics,in the municipality, according to anannouncement from the Central AmericanAlliance for Biodiversity Protection.The motion also calls for an educationalcampaign to warn the public aboutthe potentially dangerous effects ofGMOs on human health and the environmentand names Paraíso a “Transgenic-Free Zone,” according to the alliance.GMOs are plants genetically altered toexhibit characteristics such as resistance toviral infections, bacteria and fungi.GMO opponents, such as the alliance,believe the controversial technology couldhave adverse effects on humans, throughunknown allergies. In addition, unwantedspreading of GMO seeds and pollen couldcorrupt non-GMO crops, opponents say,destroying natural plant species.Paraíso is an agricultural town dedicatedprincipally to the production of vegetablesand roots such as potatoes.The motion to be GMO-free was madeby council vice-president David Valverde,who said Paraíso is a “model and an example”in environmental protection.GMO opponents in Costa Rica,including the Biodiversity CoordinationNetwork, are calling for a moratorium onGMO production until studies betterdetermine the health and environmentalimpacts of the science (TT, Nov. 19,2004).Costa Rica has approximately 1,450hectares of transgenic crops, mainly corn,soy and cotton, used for production ofseeds exported to the United States,according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

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