Life and GMO Are Not Compatible


(Source: 전북대안언론 참소리)

On September 8, 2015, the National Center for GMO Crops of the Rural Development Administration(RDA) announced their plan to apply for an evaluation on the safety of genetically modified(GM) rice. In response, Alliance of Movement for Life and Anti-GMO Crops( 유전자조작식물반대생명운동연대) issued a statement demanding “RDA should stop developing GM crops which threaten safety and lives of people” on September 30. RDA, however, established GM crop test field in Wanju county in North Jeolla province in November. Jeongnong village, where the test field is located, is where environmentally-friendly/organic rice  is cultivated and the entrance to Kimjae Plain, biggest rice-producing region. Therefore, it is highly concerned of GM contamination once GM crop is tested.

On April 29, as RDA plans to plant GM rice in the test field, “North Jeolla People’s Protest against Commercialization of GM rice” was held in front of RDA building. Over 1,000 people and fifty- five organizations including farmers’ organizations, environmental organizations, and consumer cooperatives gathered and demanded that RDA abolish the plan to commercialize GM rice and stop developing GM crops.  

The Danger of GM Crop GM crops have begun to be commercialized since 1996 and 28 countries are cultivating GM crops. Yet the damage cases are not limited only in those countries but found in broader range. GM crops has 20 year short history and have not been proven their safety, but transnational seed/agrochemical corporations such as Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont have kept promoting GM crops. That is why the damage cases are increasing. For example, since the protein transplanted by genetic modification is abnormal, it causes allergies or produces toxins in human body. Research Institutes in Europe researched and reported that GM vegetables cause damaged organs, shortened life span, tumor and cancer, allergies, and sterility. Also ecosystem is disturbed and destroyed by appearing “super weed” or “super insects” tolerant to agrochemicals which are used to cultivate GM crops.

Above all, one of the biggest problems is GM contamination. In the region of cultivating GM crops, the native or organic plants are contaminated by natural pollination through wind, water, soil, birds, and insects. There is no international body to monitor this matter, so we do not know the precise extent of GM contamination. GeneWatch UK and Greenpeace International established the GM Contamination Register to record the damage cases and discovered 396 incidents across 63 countries from 1997 to 2013.

Movement Against GM Crop As the damages by GM crops became obvious like mutation of native plants, movements to stop GM crops started worldwide. GM contamination cases have been found in Mexico, Thailand, the Philippines, Canada and more. Farmers keep fighting back. In Mexico where maize is staple food, it was found that native maize was contaminated in 2002 and realized GM crop is not only the matter of seed, but the “attack” to farmers’ livelihood, culture, and lives. Then the education started using farmers’ knowledge. They attempted to plant more native seeds, exclude the seeds which are not known its history, get rid of deformed plants in early stage.

In case of Thailand, native plants were contaminated by GM cotton in 1999, GM papaya in 2004 and GM maize and soya in 2007. In response, Thai farmers submitted petition letters, organized demonstration against GM crops, and pushed for a dialogue with top government officials. As a result, the government announced its rules on GM crops including a mandatory public hearing before field testing and a recommendation that approval from the local people, independent NGOs and academic community should be gained. Moreover the education for distinguishing GM crops by using farmers’ knowledge continues.

Way to go After 10-year debates over permission of GM crops among EU member countries(28 countries), 19 countries declared to ban GM crop completely to protect their agriculture from destroying. Putin, the president of Russia, also announced the measure to stop genetic modification. In case of other countries, usually transnational seed/agrochemical corporations are promoting GM crops, but Korean government is leading the development of GM crops. It is absurd situation since the government is responsible for securing safe food and protecting food sovereignty. Instead the government attempts to commercialize GM crop, harmful to human and environment. The answer is simple and obvious. Native seed should be protected and GM crop should be banned. It starts from knowing its danger, realizing the its threats on environment, safe food and food sovereignty, and joining the anti-GMO actions.

Hwang Jeongeun(General Secretary, ISC)