The choice presented by genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is a stark one: between the privatization of life and environmental disaster on the one side, and the protection of biodiversity and human communities on the other. This was the key message of the talk that Vandana Shiva gave on January 21st at the Universidad de Costa Rica to support the Pura Vida Sin Transgénicos movement.
Dr. Shiva began by reminding the audience that all agrochemicals originated in war, as chemicals used in chemical warfare and even the concentration camps. What we’ve seen in recent years is a retooling of war production to our seeds and crops. That’s why Dr. Shiva refers to GMOs as a ‘war at the genetic level’, against the environment, against farmers, and against biodiversity.
The “war against farmers” is especially seen in the way companies that create genetically modified seeds enforce their patents, making it impossible for farmers to use the seeds from their own crops.
Dr. Shiva highlighted the three types of pollution that GMOs cause: genetic pollution, where genes are inserted so that a plant produces its own poison, such as Bt crops, which produce toxins that come from the Bacillus thuringensis bacterium. GMOs also cause the pollution of scientific research, as many scientists receive funding to do research that supports the agenda of large agricultural corporations.
Finally, GMOs cause a pollution of our democratic discourse, as corporations such as Monsanto use their power to influence lawmakers, and swing public opinion in favour of genetically modified foods.
Dr. Shiva spoke of her admiration for Costa Rica, calling it a paradise, with some of the richest biodiversity on the planet and an advanced national park system. She recounted the struggles that her own country, India, has had in fighting against GM crops such as Bt cotton and eggplant. She expressed her hope that Costa Rica would pass the moratorium on GMOs asked for by the Pura Vida Sin Transgénicos movement, and that people would join the struggle to protect their paradise.
IAFN was privileged to be present at the event, which included an agroecological fair with numerous local organizations present. We have strengthened our resolve to continue promoting analog forestry as a land management practice that places biodiversity front and centre, and reject the monocultures and chemically-intensive agriculture that come with genetically modified organisms.

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