Nicaraguan enviro activists say GMOs would not alleviate drought crisis

A severe four-month drought during this year’s “wet” season in Nicaragua hit agricultural production in two-thirds of the country’s 153 municipalities. More than 100,000 farmers were affected, according to official figures. The drought is thought to be the worst in Nicaragua for 44 years.

Nicaragua’s recent weather patterns will not surprise many climate scientists. The 2013 global climate risk survey places the Central American nation of 6 million people fourth in its list of countries most affected by climate change.

A recent study by the International Centre of Tropical Agriculture predicts that if temperatures continue to rise, Nicaragua could see its annual corn and bean production drop by up to 34,000 tonnes and 9,000 tonnes by 2020, respectively.

For Nicaragua’s agribusiness lobby, such a solution lies in the greater use of chemicals and more advanced technological inputs. Upanic, for instance, an influential industry group, held the country’s first conference on agricultural biotechnology in October.

Environmental groups are pushing for a different approach, arguing that the best defence against climate change is a more diversified, more ecological approach to farming.

“The effects of climate change combine with global pressures from agribusiness companies to introduce GMOs,” says Martín Cuadra, a rural development expert at Simas, a Managua-based research institute. Cuadra believes such a move would ultimately imperil smallholders’ freedom. “Those who control the seeds control the stomach. And those who control the stomach, control life itself.”

Read full, original article: Climate change in Nicaragua pushes farmers in uncertain world

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