Federation assures that myths surrounding GMOs unfounded; adoption would generate jobs
By Willberth Villalobos Castrillo for La Voz de Guanacaste / additional editing by Inside Costa Rica staff
May 5th, 2014 — The Federation of Guanacaste Municipalities (FEMUGA – Federación de Municipalidades de Guanacaste) has requested that Nicoya’s Municipal Council suspend the agreement prohibiting the production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the canton.
Nicoya was declared a GMO-free canton in 2006, following a unanimous agreement among previous Municipal Council members.
Viviana Alvarez, FEMUGUA’s executive director, explained during the April 30 municipal session that they are visiting all of the municipalities in Guanacaste, requesting that the councilors’ support the arrival of GMO-producing companies.
“We want them to revisit the agreement. Since the end of the 1990s we have been eating [and using] GMO cereals, meats, milk, cotton, and even injectable insulin and other GMO medicines and nothing has happened to anyone,” said Alvarez.
The official believes that companies such as Monsanto G.P.L. could generate employment in the province. “Guanacaste has been a province hurt unemployment. We cannot turn away companies that are creating employment, and in the end it’s a myth that they’re going to do anything to traditional agriculture. If we had a vision for the future we would be training those farmers,” she said.
Several representatives of the company Monsanto G.P.L. were present for the session. They used a slideshow to discuss “myths” about Monsanto and GMOs.
However, councilors had a variety of reactions, as even though some are in favor of opening the canton to GMOs, the large majority still have their doubts and others are emphatically opposed to GMOs.
Juan Luis Aguirre, councilor for the Libertarian Movement and the council’s new president, said that the topic of GMOs requires careful examination. “There are several interests involved – the environment, the economy, health and even ideologies.”
For his part, the National Liberation Party (PLN) councilor Rodolfo Orozco said that he defends the canton’s small producers and that, “I don’t know how chicheme (a drink made with purple corn) or arroz de maíz (a rice and corn stew) would taste if they were made with GMOs; for that you could buy a hamburger from McDonald’s.”
Rep. Mario Ondoy expressed concern, due to the fact that he doesn’t understand current regulations on the sale, labeling, monitoring and production of GMOs. However, he believes it is necessary to come to an agreement that benefits both farmers and companies.
Councilor Juan Edwin Yockchen maintained that there is a need to raise awareness and teach people about GMOs. “We have to explain to our traditional producers that the intention is to improve production. Obviously that has a cost and what the companies want is to earn a profit selling their seeds every year. But I am also sure that GMOs aren’t harmful to your health because we’ve been using them without realizing it,” he explained.
For her part, Viviana Alvarez affirmed that FEMUGA would continue to visit the Guanacaste’s eleven municipalities in an effort to convince councilors to allow the arrival of GMO-producing companies.
Copyright (c) 2014 La Voz de Guanacaste / published with permission