Organizations of the civil society in Central America presented today irrefutable proof of the presence of StarLink – a genetically modified maize banned for human consumption in the US – in food aid sent to Central America.
Central American Aliance for Biodiversity
Friends of the Earth International
Laboratory results unveiled today contradict this week’s World Food Programme (WFP) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) declarations questioning the presence of the banned StarLink maize in food aid distributed by the WFP.
Laboratory results showing StarLink presence are online here:
February 18, 2005, Managua, San Jose, Tegucigalpa, San Salvador, Guatemala — An alliance of environmental, consumer, farmers, human rights, and Unions of five CentralAmerican countries have accused the WFP and USDA of ignoring concerns of the Centralamerican society about the potential risks of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The WFP and USDA publicly denied laboratory results that show with precision presence of StarLink in food aid in Centralamerica.
The organizations expressed outrage about the lack of seriousness of the WFP and USDA and their response to revelations presented on the 16th of February by the civil society Alliance in Centralamerica. Representatives of the WFP have stated that the introduction of GMOs is already an old issue that does not deserve any discussion.(1)
“The WFP must take seriously our demands and assume its responsibilities. The WFP must buy any needed food locally, and stop using food aid to introduce GMOs”, said Julio Sánchez from Centro Humboldt/Friends of the Earth Nicaragua.
At the same time the organizations have publicly presented irrefutable proof from the independent laboratory Genetic ID, which certificates the presence of StarLink in food aid, in response to the statements from WFP and USDA representatives denying the veracity of the assertions of the Centralamerican organizations. Representatives from WFP and USDA have declared that in the US all food aid is tested for StarLink in order to guarantee that it is not sent to any food aid recipient, and continued denying the distribution of this maize in the region. (2)
“The presence of StarLink was verified in food aid already in 2002 in Bolivia and now it comes up again two years later in Guatemala . The USDA and the WFP do not have any excuse to ignore our demands, either they are deliberately misleading us, or they simply do not care”, said Mariano Godinez of Ceiba/Friends of the Earth Guatemala.
Background information online at http://www.humboldt.org.ni
For more information contact:
In Nicaragua, Silvia Arguello, Centro Humboldt, Tel: +505 250 6454 or +505 843 7571,
In Nicaragua, Juan López, Friends of the Earth International Tel: +505-6269504 (till Feb. 19 only)
In Guatemala, Mario Godinez, CEIBA, Tel: +502 7839 6033 or +502 7839 10 33 or +502 5718 28 40,
In El Salvador, Dr.Ricardo Navarro, CESTA Tel: +503 220 3000,
In Honduras, Dr. Juan Almendarez , Madre Tierra Tel: +504 237 5700,
In Costa Rica, Isaac Rojas, COECOCEIBA, Tel: +506 399 7203,
Fabian Pacheco, AESO, Tel: +506 810 9999,
NOTES TO EDITORS
(1) According to Associated Press reports from the 16th of February. World Food Program spokeswoman in Rome , Anthea Web did not give importance to the fact that GM food was sent to those countries. She said that “They’re eaten safely by millions of people everyday from Boston to Brussels to Buenos Aires ,” she said.
Given that many world authorities including the National Academy of Sciences in the United States have called for more safety testing of GMOS, it is not possible to declare whether GMOs are safe or not safe.
Alejandro López, representative from the regional office of the WFP for Latinamerica said, according to IPS report from the 16th of February that “the issue of GM food is an old controversy in which the WFP is not going to enter.”
(2) The spokesperson for the USDA Ed Loyd, according to Associated Press Reports from the 16th of February, said the United States requires that any food aid be tested to make sure it doesn’t contain StarLink. He added that “we have never had an incident in which there has been a positive test for any food aid shipment.”
Mr. Loyd ignored findings of US food aid to Bolivia that was found to be contaminated by StarLink, widely reported in media such as CNN, and presented in writing to U.S. government officials by Friends of the Earth in 2002.
The representative of WFP in El Salvador Jaume Valldaura, according to IPS, said that he is “certain” that StarLink is not used in the region and that “there is no doubt that we do not distribute StarLink”.