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You are here: Home / Media / Archive / 2005 / 0216


press release

world food programme and united states denounced for the distribution of genetically modified organisms in central america and the carribean

A Genetically Modified Maize unauthorized for human consumption, StarLink, found in food aid distributed by the World Food Programme in central america.

February 16, 2005. Managua, San Salvador, San Jose, Guatemala, Tegucigalpa -- More than 70 environmental, consumer, farmer, human rights groups and unions from six Central American and Caribbean countries denounced in simultaneous press conferences today the presence of unauthorized Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in food aid distributed by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), and in commercial imports of food originating mostly from the US.

The organizations requested the WFP to immediatly recall all food aid containing GMOs.

"The WFP by introducing food aid with GMOs is placing at risk our children and pregnant women, the most vulnerable people in our society. The GMOs identified are not authorized in our country and the World Food Programme must immediately recall them", said Julio Sánchez from Centro Humboldt in Nicaragua. "In Nicaragua our farmers produce enough food and the WFP should buy any needed food within our country, instead of using imported food with GMOs", added Sánchez.

In total over fifty samples of maize and soy from food aid in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and from commercial imports in Costa Rica and Dominican Republic were sent to Genetic ID, an independent U.S. laboratory, to verify whether GMOs were present.

In more than 80% of all samples sent to the laboratory GMOs were identified.

Food aid has been identified as the main reason behind the presence of GMOs in countries of the region. In Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala all samples of food aid sent to the laboratory tested positive for GMOs.

The presence of GMOs in the only sample in which GM levels were tested, a bag from Guatemala, was higher than 70%.

It is important to note that the Genetically Modified maize illegal for human consumption StarLink was for the first time found in food aid distributed directly by the WFP.

StarLink has never been authorized for human consumption anywhere in the world due to the potential allergenic content of its genetically modified protein. This maize was initially authorized for animal feed, but in 2000 it was found in human food products and authorities spent millions of dollars to remove it from the market and ban its planting altogether.

Subsequently, it was found in Japan and Korea and was also immediately recalled from markets there. In 2002 it was also found in USAID food aid sent to Bolivia.

"It is not acceptable that a maize which is illegal for human consumption worldwide is contained in food aid distributed in our country. Finding StarLink four years after it was banned clearly shows that genetically modified foods are not under control", added Mario Godinez of CEIBA in Guatemala.

Commercial imports of food containing maize and soy mostly from the US were monitored in Costa Rica and Dominican Republic, countries which are not food aid recipients. Over 75% of all samples sent to the laboratory from there were positive.

"The unauthorized and unwanted presence of GMOs clearly shows that Costa Rica urgently needs a ban on GMOs. In order to protect our population it is of utmost importance now more than ever to act with great caution," said Fabián Pacheco of the Social Ecology Association in Costa Rica.

more information

Nicaragua, Julio Sánchez, Centro Humboldt-FoE Nicaragua, Tel: +505 250 6454 or +505 843 7571, (Spanish)
In Nicaragua, Juan López, Friends of the Earth International, tel +393331498049 (Spanish, English, French, Italian) or 505-6269504 (today only)
In GuatemalaMariano Godinez, CEIBA-FoE Guatemala, Tel: +502 7839 6033 or +502 7839 10 33 or +502 5718 28 40, (Spanish)
In El Salvador, Edith Campos, CESTA-FoE El Salvador Tel: +503 220 3000, (Spanish)
In Honduras, Francis Osorio, Madre Tierra-FoE Honduras Tel: +504 237 5700, (Spanish)
In Costa Rica, Isaac Rojas, COECOCEIBA-FoE Costa Rica, Tel: +506 399 7203, , y Fabian Pacheco, AESO, Tel: +506 810 9999, (Spanish, English)



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