November 11th, 2011
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Peru bans GM products for 10 years

Gnetically modified food and cropsLima: Peru’s Congress has approved of a 10-year moratorium on imports of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in order to safeguard the country’s biodiversity. They intend to bar all kinds of genetically modified seeds, livestock and fish from being imported for cultivation or to be raised locally.

The bill which was approved by the Congress has been sent to President Ollanta Humala. Once the president signs the bill it would become a law. Humala, who has been in power since late July, has repeatedly said he opposes GM programs.

The only exceptions include the use of GMO products for research purposes in a closed environment, but those will be closely monitored, the legislature’s official news service said.

Congress had approved a similar 10-year moratorium in June, but outgoing president Alan Garcia, who was seen as being favorable to GM, did not ratify the ban. There was friction over GM in the previous government’s ministries of agriculture and environment. The head of Peru’s Consumer Agency, Jaime Delgado, said the moratorium is long enough to learn from scientific studies that will emerge on the effects of GMO products.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, Peru is one of the world’s leading exporters of organic food, including coffee and cocoa, with $3 billion a year in revenues and 40,000 certified producers.

The country’s leading group representing farmers and ranchers, the National Agrarian Convention, said that by this measure Peru “defends its biodiversity, its agriculture, its gastronomy and its health.”

The use of genetically modified organisms has sparked significant controversy in many areas. Such meddling with biological states or processes that have naturally evolved over long periods of time would create negative results. Some are even concerned about the limitations of modern science to fully comprehend all of the potential negative ramifications of genetic manipulation.

Concerns have been voiced about the possibility that GMOs could introduce new allergens into foods, or contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance.  A number of studies have raised concern and environmental groups still discourage consumption in many countries claiming that GM foods are unnatural and therefore unsafe. There are strict regulations that demands safety testing of any new organism produced for human consumption.


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