These past few months Belize has begun hearing again about GMOs or Genetically Modified Organisms. BAHA and the Ministry of Agriculture have repeatedly promised that no permits have been given for the importation of GMOs into Belize for planting. At the same time, we have been made aware of a serious push from the Belize Grain Growers Association in Belize for the importation of GM Bt corn for planting.
So, while the Government of Belize is following its own Bio-safety guidelines, there is an urgent and active, funded lobbying effort, financed by the Belize Grain Growers Association, attempting to change Government’s policy.
The current bipartisan policy of the Government of Belize was created under the PUP and approved by the UDP. It took several years and only after many public consultations throughout the country of Belize was it eventually finalized. The decision made at that time was the precautionary approach: if the import, use, and handling of GMO technology present uncertain risks, then the Government of Belize will choose to err on the side of caution.
Contrary to what many may believe, GMOs are NOT a done deal in Belize. Government has pledged its protection with laws which require that ANY importation of GM feed, seed, or plant material MUST be preceded by a scientifically rigorous and sound risk assessment.
Last year, when the people learned GMO corn had found its way into Belize (through the back door), they quickly organized and spoke out loudly against this illegal action. The Government responded by publicly burning the GMO corn.
One year later and GMOs are once again approaching our doorstep… knocking at our door. What do the people of Belize have to say about GMOs today?
For the next month, our group, Belizeans Against GMOs (BAGMO) will be submitting articles by local authors, “GMO Information Ads” with a new topic each week, international research papers, videos, documentaries and more, that will be published and aired weekly for the entire month of March.
We urge that teachers encourage their students to learn about GMOs, as we will be sponsoring a GMO WRITING CONTEST in April for students ages 14-18 with hundreds of dollars in prize money. More details are available on our Facebook group page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bagmo/
It will be important for ALL of us to educate ourselves and to make reasonable and thoughtful judgements on this GMO issue. If we believe that the introduction of Genetically Modified crops will affect our country to its detriment, then we must urge Government to maintain its established policies until such time as the jury comes in with a verdict that the safety of GMOs is, in every regard, both assured and desirable.
We believe the people of Belize will find this to be a most interesting “month of learning,” as GMOs indeed impact every one of us, every day… simply by the very foods we buy, eat and feed to our families.
Denise Frank and Miriam DeShield
Members, Belizeans Against GMOs