San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican environmentalists protest against GMOs

Groups of environmentalists, agronomists and university students met on Monday morning outside the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry (MAG), west of San José, to protest against a request to plant genetically modified corn in Costa Rica.

On Sunday, a protest march arrived in the capital after participants walked more than 250 km from the northwestern province of Guanacaste.

MAG’s National Biosafety Commission on Monday began debating approval of the use of the first varieties of corn seed that Monsanto – the world’s largest producer of GM seeds – hope will enter Costa Rica. These corn varieties are known as MON-88017, MON-603, MON-89034 and MON-00863-5.

The commission, composed of environmentalists, government officials and university representatives, will approve or reject the request to test GM crops here.

Besides opposition from environmental groups, a letter against GMOs was sent by the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and the Faculty of Biology at the University of Costa Rica, and the Costa Rican Agronomy Engineers’ Association.

Luis Felipe Arauz, dean of the UCR’s Agricultural Sciences Faculty, also stated his position during the committee meeting. “I spoke of the risks involved in GM contamination of native corn and presented them projections based on mathematical models that take into account aspects such as wind, pollen production, and others,” he said.

The request to authorize Monsanto to plant GM corn seeds was filed in Costa Rica by local company Delta & Pine, located in Cañas, Guanacaste.

Alberto Font contributed to this story.

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