On January 21st 2013 Monsanto which has been rated many times as the most evil corporation on the planet, was granted permission to plant GMO corn in Costa Rica.  Although they were only given permission to plant a couple of hectares of GMO corn; they now have their foot in the door and Costa Rica’s native corn is in danger of contamination.   Currently there are approximately 500 hectares of genetically modified crops in Costa Rica, the vast majority are cotton and soybeans, but there are also GMO pineapples, bananas and now GMO corn growing in Costa Rica.

Although GMO is starting to make inroads into Costa Rica, months of protests by different activist groups opposed to genetically modified food have been able to dramatically impact the local level, and as of March 2013 there are 22 Cantons in Costa Rica that have so far declared themselves to be GMO Free Zones.

Among the Cantons that have declared themselves GMO free are Poas, Valverdevega, Santa Barbara, Upala, Puntarenas, Escazu, La Union, Palmares, San Ramon, Esparza, Orosi, Desamparados, Dota, Tibas, and Garabito.  Discussions continue in the cantons of Montes de Oro, Leon Cortes, Mora, Acosta, San Isidro de Heredia, Alajuela, and Santo Domingo.

The fight is not over yet and is in fact just beginning, the dangers of GMO are quite clear and many countries around the world are saying no to genetically modified corn, including: the United Kingdom, Russia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Germany, France, Poland, Ireland, Thailand and two states in Mexico.

Once again corruption may be involved with the National Biosafety Technical Commission(CTNBio, in Spanish); as despite hearing a multitude of research outlining the dangers of GMO, they went ahead and quickly approved Monsanto and stated with certainty that there are no potential environmental and consumer health risks involved in introducing GMO corn into  Costa Rica.    This is a flat out lie and has outraged environmental groups throughout Costa Rica.

Environmentalists and other groups that formed the resistance against GMO last November, feel that the commission had a complete disregard for a multitude of convincing scientific arguments that clearly shows the environmental, health and socio economic dangers of Genetically Modified Food.

In fact Dr Seralini flew in from France and personally presenting his new research at the University of Costa Rica.  Dr Seralini’s study recently published in the International journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology showed that rats that ate GMO corn had a shortened life span and a greatly increased risk of tumors and cancer.   Pro GMO groups criticized the methodology of the study, but this is just one of 19 studies that have shown damaging health effects and organ disruption in both rats and mice. 

One of the other real dangers is Monsanto’s strategy to pollute and control native seed supplies around the globe.  GMO corn can contaminate and destroy native corn varieties, and once this happens Monsanto will then own the patents on this new GMO polluted variety.  This has been happening around the world where farmers are forced into paying Monsanto for their native seeds that are now polluted with the GMO strain.   Monsanto is infamous for taking advantage of small farmers.

In December 2012 Luis Felipe Arauz, Dean of UCR’s Agricultural Sciences Department spoke before the commission stating that “there are risks involved in GMO contamination of our native corn.”  He presented detailed projections based on mathematical models that took into account aspects like pollen production, wind patterns and more. This huge environmental threat to native corn is also the reason why 90 beekeepers from around the country sent a letter to CNTBio, MAG and President Laura Chinchilla.

Carlos Zamora, a beekeeper at Miel Dorada de La Bajura and a leading anti-GMO activist, explained: “Bees have the capacity to travel across 700 hectares of land and, therefore, wherever the experimental pilot project for the transgenic corn is, there will be bees and hives in that radius, which can then be cross-pollinated with native corn, causing a hybrid specie of corn. The pollen then contains these transgenic substances, toxins, which deteriorates the quality of the honey and the life of the bees.”

One of the beauties of Costa Rica is that small farmers rule and we have the great benefit of knowing where our food comes from, if GMO is allowed to proliferate through Costa Rica, most small farms would go bankrupt and be wiped out over time.  In fact there is a movement in Costa Rica for more sustainable agriculture and the introduction of GMO within the native food supply would permanently destroy all hope of sustainable agriculture in Costa Rica.   Thank god the local level is fighting back and for good reason.

The threat is real please support the move on the local level to create GMO free zones throughout the country.

One final note regarding both the good and bad news about the GMO in CR.   The good news is that the 500 plus hectares of GMO agriculture in this country is for export only, but this does not mean that Costa Ricans are not consuming GMO, in fact the vast majority of processed foods that have corn and soy in this country are loaded with GMO’s.  The real battle is in a continued fight and ongoing education efforts throughout Costa Rica. If we continue the pressure on the local level then all of Costa Rica will hopefully become a GMO free zone.