Chile and the GMO Threat

On May 11 this year the Chilean Senate approved the adoption of the new resolutions of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 91), welcoming a new convention that covers the introduction of genetically modified seeds and intellectual property rights on seeds. Inevitably, this convention will mean new privileges for seed companies and the loss of farmers’ rights to reproduce, exchange and improve their own seeds.

The introduction of the “Monsanto law” was strongly criticized by both public opinion and many Chilean associations. Together with 17 Senate members, these associations have presented manifestos and official declarations, emphasizing the unconstitutional nature of a convention that violates some fundamental rights on seed property and free cultivation.

The Slow Food convivia of Frontera del Sur, San Antonio and Pucón, together with several organizations defending farmers’ rights – Anamuri, Mapuche Health Network, Ranquil, Asamblea Mapuche De Izquirda, Cloc Via Campesina Chile and others – have mobilized and demonstrated their refusal to accept a Chile dominated by GMOs and seed multinationals.

The Pucón Convivium has taken a strong position, arguing for freedom of exchange against the new seed saving regulation. In an official document they appeal for the continuation of the practice of trafkintü – a barter or exchange of gifts that is part of an Andean vision of harmony in giving and receiving, founded in reciprocity. (See the photo gallery)

The reasons for saying no are clear to local members. First, airborne GMO seeds would contaminate traditional or organic crops, creating irreversible crosses and processes and seriously harming biodiversity. Secondly, the privatization of seeds would open the path towards intensive agriculture and the monopoly of multinationals, to the detriment of the local rural economy, history, culture and society.

It is important that the voices of those protesting against the decision of the Chilean authorities are heard. At stake are the liberty, the identity and the future of producers and consumers around the country.

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