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Venezuala Bans Frankencrops

In a reversal of Monsanto’s contracting to plant their genetically altered soybeans, Pres Chavez has moved to ban GMO’s in Venezuela and start an indigenous seed bank. The importance of food sovereignty and security — required by the Venezuelan Constitution — was emphasized as a basis for this change.

Cultivation of genetically modified crops to be prohibited on Venezuelan soil
April 21, 2004 [Took a while to get this one out to the rest of the world]
Bylined to: Jason Tockman,

President Hugo Chavez Frias has announced that the cultivation of genetically modified crops will be prohibited on Venezuelan soil, possibly establishing the most sweeping restrictions on transgenic crops in the Western Hemisphere. Though full details of the administration’s policy on
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are still forthcoming, the statement by President Chavez will lead most immediately to the cancellation of a contract that Venezuela had negotiated with the US-based Monsanto Corporation.

Before a recent international gathering of supporters in Caracas, President Chavez admonished genetically engineered crops as contrary to interests and
needs of the nation’s farmers and farm workers. He then zeroed in on Monsanto’s plans to plant up to 500,000 acres of transgenic soybeans in Venezuela. “I ordered an end to the project,” said President Chavez, upon learning that transgenic crops were involved. “This project is terminated.”

President Chavez emphasized the importance of food sovereignty and security — required by the Venezuelan Constitution — as the basis of his decision. Instead of allowing Monsanto to grow its transgenic crops, these
fields will be used to plant yuca (an indigenous crop), Chavez explained. He also announced the creation of a large seed bank facility to maintain indigenous seeds for peasants’ movements around the world…

With a long history of social and environmental problems, Monsanto won early international fame with its production of the chemical Agent Orange – the Vietnam War defoliant linked to miscarriage, tremors, and memory loss, to which over a million people were exposed. More recently, the company has been criticized for side-effects that its transgenic crops and bovine growth hormone (rBGH) are believed to have on human health and the environment.

Closer to home in Venezuela, Monsanto manufactures the pesticide glyphosate, which is used by the neighboring Colombian government as part of its Plan Colombia offensive against coca production and rebel groups. The Colombian government aerially sprays hundreds of thousands of acres, destroying legitimate farms and natural areas like the Putomayo rainforest, and posing a direct threat to human health, including that of indigenous communities.

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This GMO news service is underwritten by a generous grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation, edited by Thomas Wittman and is a production of the Ecological Farming Association


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