Wednesday 23 June 2021

Nicoyans Speak Out Against Planting Transgenic Corn in Guanacaste

By César Blanco, Voice of Nosara/QCostarica

Maiz 4

Guanacaste cantons, like Abangares and Nicoya, are fighting to remain free of transgenic corn now that the company Delta and Pine is looking to plant modified international Monsanto seeds in the canton of Abangares. The controversy will be delayed until the end of February since the State National Biosecurity Commission requested more information about the product.

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Although the Municipality of Abangares has declared itself to be an “ecological canton free of transgenics,” the Biosecurity Commission has argued that this is invalid since it goes against “other laws.”

Delta and Pine want to plant one to two hectares of this genetically altered corn as part of an investigation of pest resistence, but after a meeting on December 3rd between the parties, the Commission gave the company a maximum of 60 days to provide convincing documentation that there are no risks.  After the deadline, the Biosecurity Commission will have five days to decide.

About 60 public and private institutions have opposed the project, such as the Public Defendor’s Office, the College of Agricultural Engineers, the School of Biology of the Univeristy of Costa Rica and the Technological Institute of Costa Rica.

Environmentalists who marched in November and December in an effort to stop a project to introduce and commercialize transgenic corn will have to wait until February to see if their labor bears fruit.

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About 60 public and private institutions have opposed the project, such as the Public Defendor’s Office, the College of Agricultural Engineers, the School of Biology of the Univeristy of Costa Rica and the Technological Institute of Costa Rica.

Legislator Jose Maria Villalta, of the Frente Amplio party, and ecological organizations filed an appeal against Delta and Pine for not presenting environmental impact studies and other details related to the future crops.

Various farmers participated in a 200-kilometer march from Guanacaste to San Jose to put pressure on the opposition.  Starting on November 24th, dozens of environmentalists carrying banners left from various cantons of Guanacaste to arrive in San Jose on December 3rd. One of the leaders, Edison Valverde, indicated that if this type of corn enters the country, it would contaminate crop traditions of more than 10,000 years.

“The wind would spread the transgenic corn and it would contaminate the rest of the grain varieties that the farmers have been plantingfor years.  This would also have consequences on human health and the quality of water.  It’s such a serious issue that it’s already been prohibited in other countries like France,” cited Valverde.

Nicoyan Natalia Perez, who participated in the march, commented, “Now, since our diet is based on corn, if Monsanto enters Guanacaste our corn will disappear and with it, our traditions, our costums, our food base and in the end our blue zone…. While economic interests are strong, Nicoya is a canton free of transgenics… and it should stay that way!”

Since 1990, small cultivations of modified corn exist in Costa Rica, but only and exclusively for investigation, as well as plantations of transgenic cotton, banana, pineapple and soybean, but they are not sold commercially or used for public consumption.

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