Dear Prime Minister Barrow,
Once again the eyes of the world will be on Belize as it struggles with the disclosure that GMO soybeans are illegally growing in Northern Belize.
I am not alone in considering this to be a serious issue, not unlike that of an ecoterrorist, who, by the very nature of cross-pollination, intentionally contaminates the surrounding environment (including water systems, numerous non-targeted animals, insects and organisms, and the soil) with a man-made protein whose characteristics and actions are barely understood. Vertical transfer and resistance are already being noted in scientific studies that these proteins are having impacts well beyond those desired by the biotech industry.
The world is rapidly awakening to the existence of adverse and understudied GMOs – to their many and serious dangers and negative effects. I am sure you are aware of the highly-publicized March Against Monsanto that happened in 436 cities in 52 different countries on May 25. The mainstream media chose to ignore the event, but the Internet overflowed with photos, blogs and videos of the phenomenal participation of over 2 million people.
As people come to learn about GMOs, they are appalled that GMOs were allowed (by the FDA whose decision makers are prior Monsanto directors) to be put into our foods with only 90 days of testing for safety required (…and the biotech companies did their own testing). Now the awakening people of the world want to say no to foods that contain GMOs. Legislation in the US has been introduced to require labeling of all GMO food products.
The demand and saleability of GMO corn products are going down as the demand for non-GMO food products are now going up. By contrast, the organics industry shows an ongoing upward growth. Belize would be far better served to direct future agricultural efforts into non-GMO crops with less commercial pesticide use.
Mr. Barrow, your leadership strongly demonstrates your commitment to protecting and preserving the natural resources of Belize. You banned trawling in Belizean waters, for example, which was applauded across the globe and will be remembered with great appreciation. It is with this same sense of appreciation (and urgency) that I (we) trust you will implement the National Biosafety Policy and enforce the BAHA Act which calls for fines and or imprisonment or both for anyone found importing (and by implication, the growing of) GMO seeds in Belize.
Please provide BAHA with the authority and needed materials to conduct random and thorough testing throughout Belize for the presence of GMO crops. Please demand complete and immediate eradication of all GMO plant material that is found.
A country as rare in natural beauty as Belize, whose very appeal to the rest of the world is her healthy and lush natural biodiversity, can demand no less than to keep GMOs available only as items on the grocery store shelves where we can choose not to buy them… never in her fields where they will contaminate and cause havoc with the natural seeds handed down through centuries of farming.
Please, Mr. Barrow, declare Belize to officially be a GMO-free country, joining an ever-growing list of countries that are looking ahead at the bigger picture for the health and well-being of their people and environment.
Member of Belizeans Against GMOs (BAGMO, a Social Network Group of more than 1,700 members)