Cross posted from The CS Monitor
Peru is the first country in the Americas to ban genetically modified foods, putting its food policy closer to that of Europe, than the United States or many of its South American neighbors.
Peru has successfully implemented a 10-year moratorium on GMOs while extensive, long-term safety tests are conducted.
It’s also the only country in the Americas to put a 10-year ban on genetically modified food, with a law that was first introduced in 2011, and went into effect at the end of last year. Its basic intention, say Schiaffino and others, is to protect Peru’s biodiversity, as well as the practices that have kept it intact for so long.
“In the end, it’s not a law that’s ‘against’ anything,” says Antonietta Gutierrez, a biologist at Peru’s National Agrarian University. “This is a law in favor of biosecurity. The idea is that there should be a responsible way of using technology, so that it helps us develop resources – and at the same time, doesn’t destroy what we already have.”
“There aren’t yet long term studies of GMOs,” says Gutierrez in a spartan concrete and linoleum lab just outside the capital. “You can’t measure their real effects in five, 10, or even 20 years. It takes more time to observe those effects, especially when we’re talking about entire ecosystems.”
Peru’s new law puts its food policy closer to that of Europe, than to that of the United States or many of its South American neighbors. While genetically modified species can still be tested in controlled lab settings, as of December 2012, they can’t be planted or set free, and GMO seeds are barred from entering the country. Both activists and many scientists consider this a coup.
GMOs produced outside the country, however, are still present in products sold in supermarkets. A law requiring products containing GMOs to be labeled was passed in 2011 – but terms and regulations were never set. According to a study done by the Peruvian Association of Consumers and Users, of 13 basic products bought and tested for the presence of GMOs, 10 tested positive.
Activists say this is all the start of a long fight.