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President Hugo Chavez announced that there will be no more cultivation of GMO in Venezuela

by Open-Publishing - Tuesday 10 July 2007

GMO Governments South/Latin America

A socially responsible approach to GMOs (!)

(NB : In 2004, Pt Chavez had announced the ban of GMO in the country !)

Today, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that there will be no more cultivation of genetically modified crops in his country. Although full details are not out, Chavez terminated a 500,000-acre Monsanto project to grow GMO soybeans.

Brazil and Argentina are still involved in GMO soybean production.

Chavez said that a policy of food sovereignty and security established by the Venezuelan constitution was the basis of his decision.

He also announced the establishment of a “large seed bank facility to maintain
indigenous seeds for peasants’ movements around the world.”

Rafael Alegria, secretary of the international peasants’ organisation Via Campesina, which brough the problem to the attention of Chavez, said, “The people of the United States, of Latin America, and of the world need to follow the example of a Venezuela free of transgenics”, he said.

“If we want to achieve food sovereignty, we cannot rely on
transnationals like Monsanto”, said Maximilien Arvelaiz, an adviser to
Chavez. “We need to strengthen local production, respecting our heritage
and diversity.”

Meanwhile, last month in the US, a federal judge in Kansas City temporarily banned a genetically engineered variety of alfalfa and ruled that the US Department of Agriculture must complete an environmental impact study before releasing GMO alfalfa. He said that government and corporate lawyers presented no credible evidence that gene drift from the GMO crop would not contaminate other crops. This is the first time a GMO crop has been successfully challenged in the US. On May 4, US District Court Judge Charles Breyer permanently banned the genetically engineered alfalfa.

Yet, the University of California, Berkeley, recently signed a $500,000 deal with BP, an oil company, for biotechnology research into biofuels.

Chavez has been nationalizing Venezuelan oil reserves (seventh largest in the world) by edging BP and other transnational oil companies out of its oil fields, while at the same time providing cheap petroleum products to poor communities in the US through its subsidiary, Citgo.

Bill Hatch