domingo, julio 06, 2014

GMO, the Controversy That Won't Go Away: A View from Puerto Rico

  • By Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero 
For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

The controversy surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMO), crops and foods is enveloping the whole planet. Farmers, scientists, professors, government ministers, elected representatives, environmentalists, peasants, indigenous peoples, and many other sectors are in heated argument regarding the pros and cons of this technology. Leaders of the business, scientific and academic communities, and political leaders, are being pressed with increasing insistence to speak up on the issue.

The makers of GMO crops, in use in agriculture since the 1990's, hold that their novel seeds help fight world hunger, aid farmers by reducing costs, and make agriculture more sustainable by reducing agrochemical use. For the future they promise crops with enhanced nutritional content and "climate-ready" supercrops that will resist the ravages of climate change. But critics state that these crops have not lived up to their promises, that they present unacceptable ecological, economic and public health risks, and that there are sustainable, socially just alternatives for feeding the world's hungry.

GMO's are the product of genetic engineering, a laboratory procedure that creates genetic combinations that would be impossible through conventional breeding. Most GM crops have been engineered to be resistant to herbicide.

As I have said before on Counterpunch, this issue is of particular importance to Puerto Rico, given that this Caribbean island nation is host to GM crop field experiments and seed breeding operations of biotech corporate giants like Monsanto, Pioneer, Syngenta and Bayer ( These crops are concentrated mostly on only five municipalities in the island's south and west.

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