Does new Venezuela GMO ban create backdoor for biotech?

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The battle against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is central in the ongoing fight between transnational corporations and the health and sovereignty of the people of Venezuela. Despite Hugo Chavez’s ad hoc ban on transgenic crops in 2004, large multinational corporations, like Monsanto, are trying to use the current economic climate to negotiate for the arrival of GM seed in Venezuela. A seed law proposed by a pro-government legislator in 2013 was met with harsh criticism from environmental and campesino movements, who claimed that it would create a backdoor for transgenic seeds to enter Venezuela. After a year of deliberating, and a complete re-write of the seed law through assemblies and gatherings of popular power, a new seed law was approved for discussion by the National Assembly. This revised law completely bans the use of GM seeds in Venezuela.

In June of 2013, United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) legislator José Ureña introduced a new Seed Law to the national assembly which would replace the 2002 version, and adjust the 2004 virtual ban on transgenics. This proposed legislation was full of fiery rhetoric promising ecosocialism. In Chapter One of the proposed law it “prohibits, for reasons of public order, the production, importation, commercialization, consumption and use of transgenic seeds.” However, Article 34 of the proposed law ambiguously stated that no transgenic seeds (imported or obtained nationally) could be used “without the corresponding certification of biological harmlessness issued by the National Seed Institute.”

Many collectives, environmental, agricultural and socialists organizations came out in opposition to the legislation, claiming that it created a backdoor for transgenic seeds and demanding more input into the drafting of seed policy.

Read full original article: Planting the People’s Seed Law in Venezuela

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