Uruguay approved new GM crops since seven years
Sep. 1, 2011
Seven years after the first authorization of transgenic corn in Uruguay, the government approved on June 21 the cultivation and the commercial production of five new varieties, a decision that caused controversy among experts and environmental organizations.
The new varieties are GA21 and NK603 (resistant to glyphosate ) and GA21XBT11 and MON810XNK603 from Monsanto, as well as, TC1507 from Dow AgroSciences and Pioneer, which are resistant to lepidopteran insects.
Uruguay already approved the varieties MON 810 (Monsanto) in 2003 and BT11 (Syngenta) in 2004. However, in 2006 the government established an 18-month moratorium to elaborate a framework for the analysis and authorization of transgenics.
Eventually, in 2008, the government of Uruguay approved a decree defining the guideline for the management and analysis of risks associated with transgenics.
"Since then until now, risk analyses have been performed for 13 new varieties of soy and corn,” which resulted in these new authorizations, as explained to SciDev.Net by Cecilia Jones, executive director of the National Institute of Semillas.
"It was not a change of philosophy about transgenics, but rather a change in the rules,” added Jones, since “The decree of 2008 states the interest of carrying forward a policy of coexistence between GM and non-GM crop.
During the progression of analyses, the measure raised concern among experts and environmentalists, but Jones assured that all inquiries would be analyzed, and the committee of risk management in biosafety met with the organizations to respond to and analyze those issues.
However, Pablo Galeano, author of a study that uncovered cross-contaminations between transgenic and non-transgenic corn in Uruguay, questioned the reviewing methods of the government.
According to SciDev.Net, while the authorizations of the first two varieties were based on public audiences, the government has now announced to the press the opening of a time window of two weeks to send commentaries to a given e-mail address, after which information about risk evaluations of the varieties being studied will be displayed on an official page.
Nevertheless, Galeano specified that this piece of information would only be accessible to people ready to go personally to a government-related office. This means that for any citizen interested in participating to the procedure of public review, it will be very difficult to access any information, which may therefore discourage participation,” Galeano regretfully explained.
Yet, in a press communication from the NGO Redes-Amigos de la Tierra warned that “there is lack of information regarding both environmental as well as food safety” for the approval of these varieties.
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