Research will determine whether genetically modified organisms harm the environment.
One of the questions that a new study on biotechnology and biosafety will endeavor to answer is whether transgenic seeds blown from one place to another or pollinated by birds retain their own traits in the new environment or cross-pollinate wild species.
Studies of this kind have already been carried out in other regions of the world, such as the United States and Europe, but this will be the first one to
analyze the situation of
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Latin America.
The project “Multi-country capacity building in compliance with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety”
will be implemented in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Peru, with specific crops being studied in each country.
The project for Costa Rica was presented on Thursday, February 24 at the Headquarters of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). A number of environmental organizations took part in the activity.
“Biotechnology is still a developing issue in Latin America. Countries like Brazil have consolidated industries but others are only just beginning to conduct field experiments. That is why many there are so many
doubts and myths, which the study will help clarify,” said Bryan Muñoz, an IICA specialist in
Biotechnology and Biosafety.
Cassava will be studied in Brazil, potatoes in Peru, cotton and rice in Costa Rica, and corn, cotton and rice in Colombia. The project, which will not plant GMOs but focus on the observation of those that already exist, will take until July 2012 to complete.
“In Costa Rica, we want to find out whether the traits of rice migrate to surrounding areas, whether birds disperse the seeds, whether there is dormancy – in other words, whether seeds are left in the fields when cultivation stops and germinate with their own traits,” said Federico Albertazzi, a specialist from the Center for Research on Cellular and Molecular Biology (CIBCM) of the University of Costa Rica, the entity in charge of implementing the project in his country.
“In general terms, we want to determine whether GMOs have an impact on the environment and, if so, what the exact nature and significance of that impact is, so that action can be taken on biosafety with hard data from the region itself and not from other areas, as has been the case hitherto,” Albertazzi went on.
The study will also analyze the socioeconomic impact of transgenic products – the cost/benefit of the technology for producers –
and includes a component for training in the assessment, monitoring, management and communication of risk for decision-making entities and the technical and research community.
IICA will assist with the organization of forums to present the progress made by the project, and with training talks.
The funds for the project are being provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and administered by the World Bank.
The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) will supervise the project at the regional level, while each country will have executing agencies: EMBRAPA’s Environmental Research Center and the State University of Campinas in Brazil, the Colombian Agricultural Research Corporation (CORPOICA) in Colombia, the CIBCM in Costa Rica and the National Council for the Environment (CONAM), La Molina National Agrarian University and the International Potato Center (CIP) in Peru.