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Commission needs more time on GMO ruling

Costa Rica’s National Technical Biosecurity Commission announced Monday it needs more time to evaluate whether to grant permission to a local subsidiary of multinational biotechnology company Monsanto to grow genetically modified corn in Costa Rica.

 The commission is reviewing a request by the company D&PL to grow GM corn seeds for export in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. The company’s plan has sparked protests in recent days by several groups of environmentalists, farmers and university students and professors, who say GM crops pose a threat to the environment and public health. Company representatives dismiss those claims.

Commission president Alex May said colleagues from the National Academy of Sciences and the Environment Ministry asked to review more information before issuing a final vote.

Agronomist Fabián Pacheco, from the Ecologist Federation and a member of the commission, said D&PL has up to 60 days to provide the requested information. Once the request is fulfilled, the commission will have five days to issue a ruling.

On Monday, opponents of allowing GMOs in Costa Rica demonstrated outside the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry in western San José while commission members met inside.

“Our food autonomy is at stake here, as well as our right to choose what we want to eat and what products we can grow,” University of Costa Rica professor Carlos Garro said on Monday.

An unscientific Tico Times poll asking readers to weigh in on the issue found that 82 percent of 1,031 respondents – 841 readers – opposed allowing GM crops to be grown here. Sixteen percent – 167 readers – were in favor of allowing GM crops. Readers can vote only once in Tico Times polls.

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