Real World Radio: It Should Not Be a Secret
Costa Rica: Ecologist Movement Challenges GM Law
On December 12, environmental, student and peasant organizations that make up Costa Rica's Green Bloc, marched in the country’s capital to file an amparo appeal before the Constitutional Court to make information on the release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) public.
The amparo appeal aims to challenge a regulation of the National Technical Commission of Biosafety (CTNBio), a body in charge of applications for the release of GMOs, which is known for limiting access to information and participation in discussions on the entrance of GM seeds.
This action is part of a day of action “In Defense of Our Corn”. The campaign began with a march from the Matambu indigenous territory to the Costa Rican capital along more than 200 km. It was a day to disseminate information and of action against the release of four varieties of GM corn patented by transnational corporation Monsanto from BT and RoundupReady (RR) technologies, including the mon-603 variety. The march lasted almost two weeks from November 24 to December 2.
The day after the activists arrived in the capital, on Monday 3 December, hundreds of people demonstrated before the CTNBio headquarters against the application to plant four varieties of GM corn patented by transnational corporation Delta & Pine Land Ltd., a subsidiary of Monsanto.
The company was declared as one of the world’s twenty most irresponsible companies, responsible for hundreds of cases of serious contamination in communities. One of the most renowned cases is the one of Rincon’I community contaminated in 1998 with over 660 tons of GM cotton seeds contaminated with agrotoxics without the community’s prior consent.
At the CTNBio session on December 3, the Cost Rican public body decided to postpone the decision because of pressure from social, environmental and academic sectors that submitted evidence against Delta & Pine Land’s request to
plant GM corn Avangares, in Puntarenas province.
The community has been declared “free of GMO” since 2007.
Because of the postponement of the decision at the body depending on the Ministry of Livestock and Agriculture, the Costa Rican environmental movement filed an unconstitutionality appeal last December 12 against the regulation of Phitosanitary Protection that regulates the CTNBio and the allocation of the licenses.
Real World Radio interviewed Jose Maria Villalta, House representative of the Frente Amplio party and member of the Coordination Network on Biodiversity when they submitted the documents to the Costa Rican Court.
The claim has legal and technical arguments against not only the release of GMOs, but also against the way in which licenses are authorized.
Villalta said the regulation is being questioned because it fails to provide the minimum environmental guarantees to protect biodiversity, such as the need to submit an Environmental Impact Study and the restriction to Access of information about the licenses.
“The permission fails to comply with the law, the Constitution and with international treaties about the need for an environmental impact study. Another serious irregularity of this mechanism to grant licenses is the clause where they say all information the companies provide to the CTNBio is secret”.
He mentions that this harms the rights of citizen participation in environmental issues, enshrined in the Constitution.
The Costa Rican campaign is part of a regional Mesoamerican campaign, where corn is harvested, against the introduction of GM varieties that would have terrible medium to long term consequences.
Photo: Demonstration outside the CNTBio on Friday 12 December (Henry Picado-Coecoceiba-FoE Costa Rica)