Contribution by: Maya Wilcher, 16′
This past November, Peru placed a ten year ban on GMO foods throughout the country. The ban “prohibits the import, production and use of genetically modified foods. The law is aimed at safeguarding the country’s agricultural diversity and preventing cross-pollination with non-GMO crops. It will also help protect Peruvian exports of organic products.”
The decision was prompted by pressure from the Parque de la Papa in Cusco, a farming community of 6,000 members that represent six different communities. One of their primary fears over GMOs is the loss of biodiversity and the compromising affects on native species such as purple corn and Peruvian potatoes. Peru has one of the top ten biodiversities in the world, and famous Lima chef Pedro Schiaffino claims that, “in a country as diverse as ours, GMOs make no sense.”
The debate over GMOs is far from resolved, as advocates argue that they increase yields, allowing the world to feed a growing population and helping farmers adapt to climate change. Critics warn of the dangers to the environment and to human health, and the dependency GMOs create between farmers and the corporations that provide GMO seeds. Many countries have placed bans on the cultivation of GMO crops, while others place restrictions on their growth and labeling. The US, despite polls showing that more than 90% of Americans want GMOs to be labelled, refuses to require GMO labeling. Since 2010, agribusiness corporations have contributed about $300 million to influence Congress towards the massive introduction of GMO foods into society.
Only time will tell when it comes to GMOs, but for now, Peru has vowed to protect the rights of its citizens and farmers over the interests of corporate agriculture.