Monsanto has begun its domination in South America in countries such as Brazil, who have embraced the GMO seeds in much the same fashion as the United States. Many of these crops are exported and within their own country they label food that is genetically modified but they are fast becoming power players in the GMO seed arena. But not all the countries are embracing the GMO seeds and it’s not just citizens speaking up but governments as well.
Costa Rica in one country where the Government is caving in to GMO. At the risk of sounding like we are giving the government too much credit, they are actually just supporting the will of the people, like governments should do as public trustees. Still, the excessive use of pesticides, herbicides and the centralized form of farming that it leads to should be met with extreme caution.
The word about GMO is getting out and countries who don’t currently have GMO seeds on their lands are proceeding with caution.
Even so, sales of GMO corn seed in Latin America nearly tripled in the first quarter of 2013 and that is likely not going to stop anytime soon. Public policy often does not reflect that best for humanity simply because of the monetary system and inherit corruption in politics. Farmers are promised higher yields so they easily are bought off, whether this is true or not. Possibly the worst of it all is the fact that the general public still does not know they are eating GMO food. Considering the fact that 70% of American supermarket shelves have products containing GMO it is likely that almost every American who eats away from their own garden has ate GMO in the past at some point.
Citizens in Costa Rica, after their government ultimately decided to allow a Monsanto subsidiary grow GMO corn in their country for export, have spent the month of march educating the public about the importance of protecting natural heirloom seeds. But this has been met with great hostility by local farmers, indigenou tribes and others so it’s technically a suspended decision.
Local communities have been voting on the issue and 46 of 81 municipalities in the country have banned the growth of GMO corn.
Heirloom seeds are becoming a critical reserve as a backup plan to avoid contamination. Here is what Waking Times had to say:
In Costa Rica, heirloom seeds have been passed from generation to generation by farming families, particularly corn as it is a basic staple of the “Tico” diet. Many varieties of heirloom corn, called maíz criollo, are grown to support the production of common local foods, such as corn tortillas, chorriadas, empanadas, tamales, and other authentic dishes. The type of corn used is typically what gives each dish its unique flavor. GMO cross-pollination with heirloom corn varieties is a major threat to traditional Costa Rican foods, their flavor, as well as the varied nutrition they provide.
Costa Rica is peppered with local farms that feed their local communities. The ownership of unpatented seed ensures these farmers of their God-given right to grow food, however and wherever they wish. Farmers are concerned that the introduction of GMO corn seed into the country will contaminate natural corn varieties with patented GMOs, thus taking away natural agricultural freedom and giving control over the food supply to corporations. Although currently the debate is focused on GMO corn seed, many expect that this is just a way in the door for Monsanto. If corn is allowed, what’s to stop from other GMO crops to be grown in the country?
Selling local produce is a very common way to make a living, particularly in small Latin American communities. For example, in Costa Rica, you will often see a local citizen selling seasonal produce right in front of their house, going door-to-door, or pushing a cart down the street. Selling and trading fruits and vegetables is a simple way that many people supplement or create their income. Also common are seed exchanges, allowing people to exchange their seeds with other local farmers, a practice not possible with patented GMO seed.
Heirloom seeds give us many freedoms: freedom to pass on ancestral traditions; freedom to grow food without patent fees; freedom to nourish our bodies; and freedom to exchange seed without corporate oversight.