December 5th, 2012 (InsideCostaRica.com) After a one week, 200-kilometer journey which began in Gauancaste, marchers fighting against a plan that would introduce genetically modified Monsanto corn into Costa Rica reached their destination on Monday, when they arrived at the Ministry of Agriculture in San Jose, their numbers growing as they made their way through Central Valley towns such as Grecia, San Ramon and Palmares.
According to Fabian Pacheco, a representative of the “Bloque Verde” (Green Block), the long march was able to drive awareness of the situation amongst the population, so that the decision would not remain in the hands of a few people. Pacheco insists that should authorities permit the genetically modified corn, it would damage the cultural heritage of native seeds, and may also expose the public to health risks such as cancer, according to some studies.
The decision to allow the genetically modified plantations is now in the hands of the National Bio-security Technical Commission, part of the Phytosanitary Department in the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry (MAG, in Spanish). Representatives of the commission debated “technical criteria” on Monday as part of the process to reach a final decision.
The protestors and environmentalists have said that allowing Monsanto to plant its genetically modified corn in Costa Rica would be a move aimed at serving multinational companies. The Minister of Agriculture, however, said “This is not a politically coordinated commission, nor are we making political decisions, this is an organization that functions with complete scientific rigor in order to issues its resolutions.”
Meanwhile, the Ombudsman’s Office sent a request to the National Biodiversity Technical Commission to delay a resolution until the effects of the genetically modified crops could be studied further.
The National Commission on Biosecurity met on Monday with the purpose of making a final decision in the matter. The decision was delayed, however, as two of the institutions that compose the commission requested additional technical information, stating they felt the information they had was “lacking.” Two members of the commission have already voted against the genetically modified plantations – The Biodiversity Coordination Network and the Federation for Environmental Conservation.
As a result, Alex May, president of the National Biodiversity Commission, said it is now unknown when a decision to allow the planting of Monsanto’s genetically modified crop may be made.