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With slogans such as, “Queremos chicha, queremos maíz, queremos a Monsanto fuera del país,” (We want chicha (an indigenous alcoholic drink made from corn), we want corn, we want Monsanto out of the country), more than 300 people demonstrated through the streets of San Jose, informing the public about the impact of GMOs and Monsanto’s monopoly over the seed market.
Activists’ criticism goes beyond merely that of the company itself. They also oppose the use of agrochemicals, the imposition of GMOs and the concentration of power and business among the few. Agriculture is becoming a business where farmers are made dependent on the corporations that sell agrochemicals and patent seeds.
The debate was opened last year when the transnational corporation Delta & Pine Land Ltda, a subsidiary of Monsanto, submitted an application to plant four of their patented varieties of GM corn. Hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the National Technical Commission of Biosafety (CTNBio) headquarters, the body in charge of the applications for the release of GMOs, which has also been heavily criticized for limiting access to information and participation in discussions involving the entry of GM seeds onto the market.
At the CTNBio session on December 3, the Costa Rican public body decided to postpone the decision because of pressure from social, environmental and academic sectors that submitted evidence against Delta & Pine Land’s request to plant GM corn Abangares, in Guanacaste. The community has been declared “GMO free” since 2007.
Costa Rica has since displayed a strong opposition movement to the GMO threat in their country. To date, 56 cantons out of a total of 81 have declared themselves territories free from genetically modified crops.
The leader of Bloque Verde, Fabian Pachecho, is organising a strong opposition against Monsanto in Costa Rica, “ We are fighting by all means possible. When needed, we demonstrate in the streets, but we are also carrying out all relevant legal paperwork, spreading our message through the media, and if necessary, we will demonstrate on the site they wish to contaminate with GM corn to show our direct opposition.