Last week on Venezuelan state television(Venezolana de Television), deputy socialist leader Alfredo Urena confirmed the government was going ahead with a law to ban GM cultivation in the coutnry, designed as a reform to legislation from October 2002- aiming to preserve Venezuelan biodiversity and contribute to food sovereignty. included in Chavez’s parliamentary agenda last year, to ban the use of GM seeds in Venezuelan agricultural production
It was as early as 1993 that Hugo Chavez, then president of Venezuela, issued what was then considered the most comprehensive ban on genetically modified crops- calling for an immediate halt of any GM food production on Venezuelan soil.
At the time it was believed that the audacious move was a reaction to Monsanto’s plans to plant up to 500,000 acres of transgenic soybeans in the country, news initially raised to the president by the peasant farmers organisation ‘Via Campesina‘ earlier that year.
Rafael Alegria, the then international secretary of the organisation maintained that, “..the agreement was against the principles of food sovereignty that guide the agricultural policy of Venezuela”, before welcoming Chavez’s decision as “a very important thing for the peasants and indigenous people of Latin America and the world.”
Chavez, along with much of South America’s current political leaders, remained until his death a passionately strong supporter of the peasant farmer, industrial worker, inspired unionist and indigenous community organizer, so his support of such a ban was no surprise.
Indeed much of the south west hemisphere has followed similar steps. In late 2011 Peru took the decisive move to finally ban all GM production on a 10 year trial basis and when Evo Morales of Bolivia enacted full rights on the Laws of Mother Earth late last year a passage including a ban on GM crop production was included. Brazil remains the big GM producer in the country- but strict labeling laws have meant any product containing genetically engineered organisms must carry a “Transgenic” mark- I will write more on this soon….
It is unclear how Venezuela will go about enforcing the new law- I’m still digging…