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US Shipping Unwanted GE Grains As "Food Aid" to Latin America

US Shipping Unwanted GE Grains
As "Food Aid" to Latin America

TRANSGENICS FOUND IN PROGRAMS OF FOOD AID IN TREE
COUNTRIES IN THE ANDEAN REGION

The Network for a Free-GE Latin America, carried out some genetic
tests of products used for food aid in four andean countries:
Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru. In the three first mentioned
countries, a high percentage of transgenics was found in the products
distributed in these programs. The studies were made at Genetic ID,
Fairfield - United States of America.

The analyses were made as a response to the fact that the main soya
and corn markets coming from the United States, specially Japan and
Europe, have neglected the transgenic products.

Last year, the United States donated 500.000 tons of corn and corn
products for aid international programs, and the former president
Clinton assigned US$ 300 millions for a program called "Global Food
for Education", through which 680.000 meter tons of soya, corn, wheat
and rice surplus will be exported to Latin America, Africa, Asia and
Oriental Europe.

During the last years, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia have
received great amounts of soya and corn coming from the United States
as part of food aid programs, especially for poor children, who are
the most vulnerable population in the society.

FINDINGS

In Colombia, the sample taking was carried out by Colombia Consumers
(COCO). An evaluation of the soya used in the National Program of
Food and Nutrition Program carried out by the Institute of Family
Welfare, for the provision of a type of food called "Bienestarina" and
soya beans, was carried out.

At the moment, most of the imported soya comes from the USA, although
it says in the initial agreement of the Food National Program, that
all soya used would be national production.

The samples were colleted in three warehouses, located in the
facilities of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, with the
assistance of an expert in sample taking, and the participation of
both, the central Government and local government representative.

The results of the analysis demonstrates that 90 % of the soya used in
the program is genetically modified.

This is not the first time that transgenics are found in Colombian
food. In February, 1999. The international organization Greenpeace,
found Bt corn in samples taken from a ship from USA at the Santa
Marta's Port.

****

In Ecuador, in January 2000, several Ecuadorian organizations
peacefully occupied a ship containing soya cake, donated under the USA
PL-480 program.

Considering that the Political Constitution on Ecuador (91.3 Art.)
establishes that the importation of transgenic products must be done
under the most strict biosafety, guidelines, a judicial inspection was
ordered and soya cake samples were sent to Genetic ID at the United
States to find out if it was transgenic soya.

The results were positive; therefore, the organizations put a complain
in the Constitutional Court, which they win this March, in order to
avoid that this soya enters into the country. An important judicial
precedent was established regarding the illegality of transgenic
products in the country.

During year 2000, the country has received thousands of tons of food
aid from the United States. Different sources said that these
programs included transgenic soya.

In February 20th, 2001 a judicial inspection was carried out for
sample taking of different food aid programs that are carried out in
the country, with the participation of representative of the
Obdusman, and a specialized professional in sample taking.

After the analysis, it was found that the soya used in the programs
"Mi Papilla" and "Mi Colada", aimed to infants (6 months to 2 years)
and to pregnant and breastfeeding women, had a 55% of transgenic
material.

The program technical specifications said that transgenic products
could not be used, and that national material should be used. For
this reason the following requests were made to the World Food Program
Representative by the Ministery of Public Welfare:

1. To stop the production of the products "Mi Papilla" and "Mi
Colada",

2. To stop the distribution of products available in stock

3. To destroy those products, which raw material has a transgenic
origin.

The findings show that transgenics enter Ecuador through two channels
in the context of food aid: the transgenic soya paste enters the
country, and is sold (as proven by results obtained in January 2000).
With the money that comes from the soya cake, GE - USA soya is bought
for distribution to poor infants and mothers.

*********

Peru is a country highly dependent on food aid. During Fuji Mori's
Government, the Peruvian agricultural sector was highly weaken.

In Peru, there is the problem of food sovereignty, since first the
insurgent forces and later 10 years of Fuji Mori's Government,
destroyed the peasant sector of the country. This makes Peru strongly
dependent upon food aid. In some regions this dependence reaches a
60%.

In March 10th, 2001 a corn sample was taken, used in the program "Vaso
de Leche" (Glass of Milk) at the "La Libertad" district in Lima. In
the test applied to the Peru material, transgenic were found in the
detection limit of 0.05%.

The result indicated that the sample contains transgenic ADN.
Nevertheless, the quantity is very low. The recommendation in this
case would be that since traces of transgenic material were found in
the analyzed material, it is necessary to make take new samples in the
future.


*********

In Bolivia between 1955 and 1986, 90% of the total food aid comes from
the PL-480 program; maily wheat, as flour and also in the form of
bulgur and fortified bulgur (cracked wheat and cracked wheat with soya
daily food); besides powder skim milk, oil and a series of blended
foods, among the following: corn flour with soya flour, wheat flour
with soya flour. Additionally there are products known as Coarse
Grains: sorghum, corn, crushed oats, lentil, pea.

The food aid management and administration of the food by the World
Food Program is carried out through two different channels: the
private institutes and the government through its Prefectures (Country
Program). In the other hand, the assistance provided by the USA
government is channalized through private institutions (NGOs) such as
CARE, FHI, ADRA y PCI, all of them with branches at the United
States.

Sample of the products donated under the PL-480 program were sent in
April 16, 2001. The recollection was made in the presence of a
Notary.

In a mixture of soya and corn the presence of transgenic corn was
found in a concentration higher than 10%, and transgenic soya between
10-3%.

In a mixture of wheat and soya a concentration of transgenic soya was
found between 1-3%.

We would like to expose these facts to the public opinion, and reject
the United States action to use the impoverish population of Latin
America and the victims of disasters in two ways: as a excuse to
promote a new, dangerous and unnecessary technology; and as
guinea-pigs to place transgenic products that have been rejected in
Northern countries, especially in Europe.

We want to call again to a moratorium to the production of transgenics
food. This is the only way to protect and guarantee our food
sovereignty; otherwise, industries will always find a market to place
their garbage.

Network for a FRE-GE Latin America
More information: transgen@accionecologica.org
Consumidores Colombia consumidorescolombia @hotmail.com
FOBOMADE <fobomade@mail.megalink.com>
Accion Ecologica - Ecuador ebravo@accionecologica.org
www.biodiversidadla.org


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