Originally published January 19 2015
Costa Rican court strikes down unconstitutional GMO approval process
by Jennifer Lilley
(NaturalNews) At a time when loopholes, ignoring facts and dancing around topics seems to be a GMO advocate's best friend, opponents of the unhealthy process have reason to celebrate.
In Costa Rica, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, also known as Sala IV, has ruled that the process of approval for GMO projects is unconstitutional. The ruling was based on the fact that the secrecy often surrounding many GMO companies regarding the genetic information of their products is in violation of people's constitutional right to freedom of information.(1)
It's the latest victory for anti-GMO activists, who applauded Chief Justice Gilbert Armijo Sancho's decision. The decision affects Costa Rica's Fitosanitary Law, which regulates the approval process of GMO projects. However, the ruling does not ban or affect GMO projects that are already underway in the country. Still, those who oppose GMOs are happy with the decision, one that stemmed from environmental group complaints in 2012.(1)
Ruling sets "important precedent"According to experts with the Costa Rican Federation for Environmental Conservation (FECON), "This is an important precedent that shows the interests of companies linked to this type of activity -- among them the multinational Monsanto which is seeking permits to plant corn -- have benefited from the granting of permits in a manner that violates the fundamental rights of the population." They add, "This guarantees that the procedures to authorize GMOs from now on will be accessible to all individuals, which will allow opposition that guarantees the cultivation of these crops will not disrupt the balance of ecosystems or the public health."(1)
Fabian Pacheco, a member of anti-GMO group Bloque Verde, says that such a decision is important to Costa Ricans. He speaks about the country's recent declaration of native corn as its cultural heritage, saying that protection of the crop is necessary. "This is a very important tool for us," he said. "Our traditional species of corn carry with them years of history and folklore. This will help us protect them."
Corn, of course, is perhaps one of the main foods that anti-GMO activists have their eye on. It's often at the heart of GMO controversies, and it's obviously no different in Costa Rica. In 2012, Monsanto filed a request to grow 35 hectares (approximately 86 acres) of corn in the country, concerning those wishing to preserve the area's native corn species.(2)
Monsanto's unfortunate strongholdMonsanto's request is nothing new in Costa Rica.
The GMO giant has plenty of space in the country as it is; since 1991, they've had GMO farms there. It's estimated that, today, Monsanto has 443.1 hectares (about 1,095 acres) worth of GMO soybeans, bananas, cotton and pineapples in Costa Rica.(2)
While biotech industries like Monsanto maintain that their processes and foods are safe for human consumption, many health-conscious people beg to differ.
GMOs have been linked to everything from liver problems and reproductive issues to cancers and compromised immune systems. According to the Organic Consumers Association, the problems are brushed off, with those in power favoring big bank accounts over human health. The association states:
In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration claimed that they had no information showing that GM foods were substantially different from conventionally grown foods and therefore were safe to eat. But internal memos made public by a lawsuit reveal that their position was staged by political appointees under orders from the White House to promote GMOs. FDA scientists, on the other hand, warned that GMOs can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged long term safety studies, but were ignored. The FDA does not require any safety evaluations for GMOs. Instead, biotech companies, who have been found guilty of hiding toxic effects of their chemical products, are now in charge of determining whether their GM foods are safe.(3)
As rulings such as this recent victory in Costa Rica become more commonplace, hopefully the evil Monsanto mindset will perish and people can go on to live the happy, healthy lives they deserve. Every ruling, no matter what the perceived significance or impact, is essential when it comes to fighting GMOs, as it shows that positive change is indeed possible.
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