Transgenic Toxic Waste for the Third World


    Alainet.org ľAgencia Latinoamericana de Informacion

    Marlon Carrion C.

    6/14/02

    Genetically modified food products are arriving in Latin America in the form of donations from the United States, Europe and
    Japan. Some of this aid has gone to the small farmers and indigenous people of Bolivia. These food products are banned in their countries of origin and highly dangerous to humans.

    Among the food donations arriving in Latin America are products containing Starlink corn which has been prohibited for
    human consumption, sale and distribution in the developed world since July 2001.

    These toxic gifts have been denounced by the Bolivian Environmental and Development Forum, FOBOMADE which, in conjunction with the international organization Friends of the Earth, sent a sample of a USAID donation to an independent
    laboratory in Iowa. The laboratory, Genetic ID, alerted these organizations to the existence of Starlink corn in these food
    products.

    The U.S. donation also contained other types of genetically modified corn, such as Roundup Ready and BtXtra, both
    produced by Monsanto and not approved for sale in the European Union, since they are not considered fit for human
    consumption.

    This toxic waste, donated as humanitarian aid to mothers, children, the elderly, farmers and indigenous people, was rejected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA noted that each cell of Starlink corn contains a modified protein with known allergenic properties. The possible side effects of consuming Starlink corn include nausea and a serious allergic reaction followed by a state of coma and later, in some cases, brain and kidney damage and even death.

    Starlink corn was originally found in "tacos" produced by the U.S. multinational Kraft. Its use was suspended following a
    series of studies. The destination of thousands of tons of unusable corn was hereto unknown. The EPA has confirmed that there is no safe level of human consumption for Starlink corn. For this reason it is not acceptable to receive products that "barely have any Starlink corn" in them.

    Bolivia is not the only country receiving "toxic transgenic aid" in Latin America. Guatemala has already received this gracious
    donation. One test by the organization Madre Selva, which works around issues of food safety in Guatemala, revealed that
    food products donated by the World Food Program (PMA) contained three varieties of transgenic corn, none of which have
    been approved for human consumption in the European Union. The three types of corn are: Liberty Link, produced by
    Aventis and Monsanto, BtXtra and Roundup Ready.

    The PMA declared that its policy is not to accept food products unfit for human consumption. Civic organizations have
    asserted that the PMA does not exercise strict control over the aid it receives and then distributes to the needy. Furthermore,
    the PMA does not have a policy regarding trangenic food products.

    The case of Nicaragua is similar to Bolivia and Guatemala and each is quite serious. In every instance where testing of food
    aid occurred, genetically modified organisms were discovered. This aid included food destined for pregnant women and
    children. 

    Nicaragua has received trangenic seeds from Germany, as wells as corn flour and soy donated by the USAID. This flour
    contains Roundup Ready corn produced by Monsanto.

    Lucia Gallardo from Ecological Action in Ecuador stated that "It is necessary to reject the use of trangenic food products
    from the Food Aid Program and demand that the FAO and member governments commit to removing such foods destined
    for Latin America."

    Environmental and civic activists have requested that transgenic seeds also be banned from entering areas of genetic origin
    and great genetic diversity. These seeds are believed to present a grave risk to national food sovereignty. 

    Nevertheless, it is necessary to ask a few questions about these phenomena: Why are trangenic products being sent to Latin
    America, Africa and Asia? What economic interests lie at the root of this aid? Is it possible to stop such aid? Do the
    conditions exist to create and sustain a native seed bank in order to guarantee food safety and sovereignty?
     
     

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