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GMOs are not the solution to climate change

GMOs are not the solution to climate change


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By Network for a GMO-Free Latin America - RALLT

Climate change has served as a pretext to resume the discourse that there are one billion people in the world who suffer from hunger, so it is urgent to produce more, and for this it is vital to massively adopt transgenic seeds. But the problem does not lie in the production of food, but in its distribution, since since 1986 there was enough food to feed 6 billion people and for years food production exceeds world needs, which is why in some regions food is thrown away from the world to keep prices stable on the world market.


Climate change will have strong impacts on agriculture. Although some climatic problems such as droughts and floods are not new, there is no doubt that global warming will increase in frequency and magnitude. Certain parts of the world will suffer more severe effects than others, especially semi-arid areas. In tropical regions and with seasonal drought, there could be a reduction in crop productivity. The increase in the frequency of droughts and floods will negatively affect local production, especially among populations living in subsistence production models.

Faced with this, biotechnology companies are preparing to make proposals that, far from facing climate change, what they will do is increase their profits and their areas of action.

Transnational corporations prepare to profit from climate change

Climate change has served as a pretext to resume the discourse that in the world there are one billion people who suffer from hunger, so it is urgent to produce more, and for this it is vital to massively adopt transgenic seeds.

This approach will undoubtedly be welcomed by several governments, but several elements are ignored, such as the following:

  • That the problem does not lie in the production of food, but in its distribution, since since 1986 there was enough food to feed 6 billion people and for years food production exceeds world needs, which is why in some regions Food is thrown away from the world to keep prices stable on the world market.
  • Until now, transgenic crops that are massively marketed have been developed only to be tolerant to the use of herbicides and to produce insecticidal plants, resistant to certain pests, not to produce more. In fact, studies carried out by scientists at universities and research centers in various parts of the world show that GMOs are less productive than conventional crops.
  • That only four transgenic crops have managed to be commercialized and are mainly intended for animal feed. This is fatal from an energy point of view, since on average it takes 700 calories of grain to produce 100 calories of meat. Therefore, producing corn or soybeans for animal feed accelerates climate change.
  • That transgenic crops are designed for large-scale industrial agriculture, highly demanding of petroleum-based inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides and mechanization), and therefore it is a model that generates greenhouse gases, accelerating global warming.
  • That in Latin American countries this type of agriculture is destined for export. One of the main sources of greenhouse gas generation is the global transport of food.

Transgenic crops do not solve global warming or the global and local food problem.


New transgenics with resistance to droughts

In the face of climate change, biotechnology companies are working on a new generation of transgenic crops with tolerance to minimal amounts of water or with the capacity to grow in soils where it was previously impossible to implement large-scale crops.

This will allow the introduction of industrial agriculture, and the companies that promote it, in areas that have traditionally been occupied by very traditional populations, such as collectors of forest products or nomadic herders.

These programs are promoted very aggressively in the African continent, but it is not ruled out that they are applied to the arid and semi-arid zones of Latin America. These include a drought-resistant maize - WEMA -, produced by Monsanto, CIMMYT and other organizations with funding from the Gates Foundation. The project comes with a chemical package that includes inorganic and agro-toxic fertilizers.

This approach ignores that drought tolerance is a complex phenomenon, which is controlled by several genes that work in synergy with environmental and cultural factors.

But the adoption of this corn or other transgenic crops that could be developed will allow biotechnology companies to enter new areas, which will go hand in hand with the loss of territorial rights of the communities that have traditionally occupied these territories.

This can be a first step in occupying the territory that can then be used in real estate projects or for the extraction of other resources, such as groundwater.

This strategy also includes projects to plant species such as Jatropha and castor for the production of agrofuels, which are implemented hand in hand with the grabbing of vast territories in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

What are our proposals

Latin America is the region with the greatest agrobiodiversity on the planet. In many areas there are human groups that have domesticated plants and selected varieties with a great capacity to adapt to climatic fluctuations, the same that are part of productive systems that are part of the material and cultural survival of these peoples.

There are many peoples that throughout the process of the conquest were pushed to the most vulnerable areas, and were adapting to these extreme conditions, producing food with great effort.

On the other hand, there is peasant agriculture based on a rich agrobiodiversity and on productive models with a great capacity to adapt to climatic variations. A way of producing aimed at local or regional markets, to achieve food sovereignty.

We can learn a lot from these peoples to face climate change. It is in these ways of working the land and cultivating biodiversity where the answers that can not only help us adapt to climate change, but also slow down its accelerated growth, may be found.

Therefore we call on the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth:

* Declare the system in which transgenic agriculture is sustained and promoted as an important cause of climate change

* For this reason, it is necessary to make a programmed reversal of the territories occupied by transgenic crops towards an agriculture more compatible with the environment and the global climate

* Prohibit the expansion of transgenic crops to areas where they have not yet been introduced.

POSITION DOCUMENT of the Network for a GMO-Free Latin America - RALLT for the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth - Cochabamba - Bolivia


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