Featured Articles on GMO issues
End of secrecy on GMOs in Chile
Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus Alternativas
de América Latina y el Caribe (RAP-AL)
Chilean Citizens win right to know GMO cultures location
*Historical decision of Transparency Council
March 23 2012, Santiago, Chile – MarÃa Elena Rozas, leader of Alianza por una Mejor Calidad de Vida/RAP-Chile (Alliance for better Quality of Life/Pesticide Action Network-Chile) praised Transparency Council's final ruling on publishing the exact location of GMO crops, confirming a former decision issued on 2010.
This 36 page long decision has six additional pages as compared to the original ruling. It was published in http://www.consejotransparencia.cl/ on March 21 and supports Rozas action on the citizens' right to know, denied by Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG) Agency. Transparency Council's former decision was appealed in 2010 in Court by the TNC Monsanto and most of the companies growing GMO seeds for export from Chile. As a result of that appeal, the Court found some procedural errors and ordered the Transparency Council to review the whole case. In Chile there is legal permission only for GMO crops for seeds export.
Maria Elena Rozas stated: "This is a very important decision because it ends secrecy imposed by Monsanto and its Chilean partners. It is a test case and encourages social participation in GMOs issue. There was much lobbying done by corporations, among them Erik and Ena von Baer Seeds Company and growers. But they could not continue defending the indefensible because it was already clear that beekeepers suffered great financial losses because of pollen contamination with GMO soy or GMO corn. Grassroots organizations and communities will now be able to exercise their right to know the exact location of GMO export crops in order to defend their crops or activities from contamination and to take care of their seeds as they stand for food sovereignty."
In January 2012, Transparency Council set a unique public hearing so that GMO producers could present new arguments. But the companies did not show up. As a result, Maria Elena Rozas, coordinator of Chile Pesticide Action Net Work RAP-Chile and her lawyer Rodrigo Mora (Pro Acceso Foundation) just asked the Council to hold the former decision on the right to know about GMO crops. Italo Bozzi and Marcelo RodrÃguez, heads of FEDEMIEL, and Beekeepers National Network, Red Nacional ApÃcola; Diego Santa Cruz, on behalf of Beekeepers Development Corporation (Corporación de Desarrollo ApÃcola); Mónica RodrÃguez and Jorge Pérez, beekeepers regional leaders, and Guillermo Riveros, chair of Organic BioBio, the biggest organization of organic farmers, attended the hearing supporting Rozas action on access to this key information.
Three years delay
Alliance for a Better Quality of Life (RAP-Chile) presented action for infringement of the fundamental right to know on June 4, 2009, the first day of validity of the new Transparency Law. After long research, on June 25, 2010, Transparency Council issued a decision and communicated it to the plaintiff Maria Elena Rozas, to SAG, Monsanto and other companies involved as third parties in this action. Companies' defense amounted to 20.000 folios.
On July 2010, Monsanto filed an appeal to Santiago Court against Transparency Council saying its decision was illegal. But this agribusiness corporation dropped down the demand on November 2011. However other companies, among them ANASAC which belongs to Monsanto, AgrÃcola Winter Seed; Semillas Tuniche; Mansur Agricultural Service; Generación 2000; AgrÃcola Puruntun; Massai AgriculturalServices; AgrÃcola Huenchuñir y Hueche; Semameris; Pinto and Gajardo S.A.; Semillas KWS Chile; Sociedad Agrosearch; Cis Semillas; Hytech; Semillas Limagrain; as well as Erick Von Baer, Juan Francisco Gebauer Burmester and Nilo Lizama Arias held their appeals in Court.
During these three years, GMO producers supported by an important law staff also tried to appeal to Chilean Constitutional Court and made a much extended lobby in order to change the initial Transparency Council Decision. Firm beliefs, persistence and union of social and environmental organizations belonging to Alliance for a Better Quality of Life, plus the support of the campaign "Yo No Quiero Transgenicos en Chile" finally came to this successful result.
This new wording of the Council judgment states that the public interest involved in spreading this information is strengthened by beekeepers experience as told in the public hearing. Beekeepers said that as they had no idea of the place where GMO crops are being grown and kept, they cannot avoid their bees to produce honey from that pollen and this "has implications on labelling, presentation and advertising of these products and merchandising, meaning great losses for national honey producers".
MarÃa Elena Rozas finally points out: "The Transparency Council decision is a true citizen's victory on chemical and seeds Transnational Corporations. This is encouraging for all parties that are being affected by GMO crops. This activity presents high risks for communities and for organic and conventional agriculture, as well as for fruit agribusiness, beekeepers, and wine producers. Besides that, transparency must be expanded now to GMO food. Consumers do have the right to choose safe and healthy foods free of GMOs. For that reason we must demand the approval of the bill on labelling GMO food now being discussed by Senate. We will also redouble our efforts in our campaign 'I do not want GMOs in Chile'. We stand for a moratorium on GMO crops and support an agriculture and food free of pesticides and GMOs."
Alianza por una Mejor Calidad de Vida/ Red de Acción en Plaguicidas de Chile (RAPChile), is formed by
More info on RAP-Chile: 09 8858227 (cell) 56-02- 6997375 (in the morning)
An important precedent
Alliance for a Better Quality of Life feels this decision must be taken into account by our government regarding the bill sent to Senate which would legalize GMO crops for national markets. This bill keeps secrecy on those possible crops. Alliance rejects this bill which aims to expand GMO crops, because they have serious impacts on biodiversity, food sovereignty, peasant communities and citizens’ health. There are growing evidences and researches associating GMO crops and technologic pesticide package with chronic diseases, as tumours, increase of infertility and other problems. Conventional and organic producers interests as well as beekeepers and consumers interests are also deeply affected. GMOs resistant to pesticides go together with an increase in pesticide use, for instance glyphosate use. This has been clearly proved in Argentine and other countries along the world.
Basis of the decision
This decision quotes new legal arguments in favour of transparency, derived from a modification of Environmental Bases Law. This modification was approved after the first Council decision. Article number 31 added to Law 20.417 (2010) establishes the right to access environmental information including a) genetically modified organisms; and interaction among environmental elements such as air, water, land and others. c) letter of the same article adds too "The management procedures regarding environmental matters or affecting elements and factors quoted in a) and b) letters."
Transparency Council held to the basis of the initial ruling because: "to keep the secret on GMO crops locations will not produce benefits or advantages”¦On the contrary, this Council believes that spreading this information, which is part of a relevant environmental issue will mean a major benefit for society, for public discussion and public opinion". The decision also quotes similar cases issued by European Court (February 2009). Transparency Council concludes finally: ”¦"we declare this information is public and since all causes for legal secrecy have invoked have been rejected, we are proceeding to accept action on this part. We want to add that the spreading of this information will make possible to have social control of the procedure used by SAG to import and free GMOs to Chile, and will favour enforcement, so there is high benefits derived of revealing this information. As a matter of fact, this will make possible that in Chile, public debate on GMOs be done with more social participation."
Executive part of the Transparency Council states:
"1.- We accept the action presented by Mrs. Maria Elena Rozas Flores against Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG) meaning this decision will be restricted to the a) part of her information demand, because of the arguments already here exposed.
2.-Require Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG) Director to inform Mrs. Maria Elena Rozas Flores the exact location and the name of the owner and/or legal entity registered to grow and keep GMO export seed and also to use it for scientific experimentation in GMO plants, in a legal deadline of 15 days since the day this decision is final and enforceable, under penalty proceeding by Article 46 and following articles of Transparency Law."
RAP-Chile believes that the end of secrecy on GMO locations will favour citizens control on possible genetic contamination generated by these companies, which has severe effects on biodiversity and deep social and financial impacts in mainstream agriculture activities: conventional agriculture, organic agriculture and beekeeping.
Regarding honey producers, it has been possible to prove some damages anticipated by RAP-Chile when presenting its action against SAG in 2009. In this year hearing, the Council found out about the critic situation lived by beekeepers, whose production is not financially sound anymore because of European requirements of Non GMO Contamination Certification. During the hearing beekeeper leader Diego Santa Cruz said that the fact there are 2.800 agricultural fields with GMO export crops registered by SAG, means there has been some kind of "land grab" which is a menace for the more than ten thousand Chilean beekeepers. Santa Cruz added that coexistence between GMO crops and conventional agriculture and beekeeping is a fake. Lawyer Rodrigo Mora informed the Council that because of the new rules issued by European Court on honey, 1500 tons of honey of last season could not be exported from Chile because they were possibly contaminated with GMO pollen.
You can find more on the process in the following links (in Spanish):
Video Part 1 in:
Parte 2 en:
Alianza por una Mejor Calidad de Vida (RAP-Chile)
Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus Alternativas
de América Latina y el Caribe (RAP-AL)
Alonso Ovalle 1618, Ofic. A
Santiago de Chile