Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, a vital ecosystem that is under threat due to the increasing cultivation of GMO crops.
For the second year in a row, a petition has arrived at the congress’ table to change the legislation that allowed the cultivation, import, and exports of GMOs in Colombia, a law that was passed without public consent.
GMO cultivation has seen a rapid expansion in Colombia since 2007 when GMO corn and cotton crops first arrived. In 2019, Colombia planted a total of 101,188 hectares with transgenic crops, of which 88,268 hectares are corn; 12,907 cotton, and 12 hectares blue flowers, according to figures presented by the Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario, ICA.
In 2020, the draft legislative act that seeks to modify article 81 of the Colombian Political Constitution was presented for the second time in the House of Representatives, to prohibit the entry, production, commercialization and export of genetically modified seeds. This proposal is not opposed to technological development, but rather proposes a sustainable development strategy that is coherent with the biodiversity of the country, as explained by Corporación Grupo Semillas Colombia.
Slow Food supports the efforts of Colombian civil societies to regain food sovereignty away from transgenic crops. You can too by signing the petition.
This biodiversity, however, is often unknown and undervalued. Colombia, for example, is an important center of origin and diversity of native and creole maize in the world, with more than 30 different races. The ethnic and peasant communities have conserved hundreds of creole varieties in their territories, which are the foundation of their culture, their traditional production systems, and their food sovereignty. For these communities, transgenic corn represents the risk of losing their landraces, as they are contaminated by genetically modified (GM) corn. There is evidence of contamination caused by this GM maize and the competent Biosafety authorities, such as the ICA, have not taken the necessary measures to prevent such contamination.
Creole and native seeds must be protected as a common good of the nation and the peoples, like many communities that are declaring their territories free of transgenics have understood. The proposal that Colombia is a Territory Free of GMOs aims to guarantee food sovereignty, the health of its population, and the conservation of all the wealth of biodiversity that exists in the territory.
The national government has focused on promoting industrial agriculture based on technological innovation, productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness as a paradigm of rural development. Promoting agriculture based on transgenics is nonsense. On the one hand, it denies the knowledge of traditional farmers to guarantee healthy, sufficient, and varied food; on the other, it ignores the poor results and false promises from companies and their research centers.
To regain food autonomy, Colombia must make a transition from the massive importation of food – such as transgenic corn and soybeans – toward national production sustained by peasant, family, and community agroecological agriculture, which protects the common goods of agrobiodiversity and guarantees food autonomy.
Social and local organizations reiterate the relevance of banning transgenic seeds and crops in Colombia, through the Legislative Act that is currently in the Congress of the Republic.
“Once we are aware of the adverse impacts generated by transgenic corn and cotton crops, and their failure in various regions of the country, we have a responsibility to protect the environment, local agriculture, and the economy of farmers. It must also be said that the current biosecurity regulations in the country do not protect our agrobiodiversity, national agricultural production, or the health of its citizens,” said German Velez, agronomist, and director of Corporation Grupo Semillas.
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Slow Food is against the commercial planting of genetically modified (GM) crops and works to promote GM-free food and animal feed.
With genetically modified organisms (GMOs) we risk transforming our food into a patented commodity controlled by a few multinationals and stripping farmers and consumers of their rights.
GMOs are unreliable from a scientific point of view, inefficient in economic terms, and environmentally unsustainable. Little is known about them from a health perspective and from a technical standpoint they are obsolete. They have a severe social impact, threatening traditional food cultures and the livelihoods of small-scale farmers.