Several groups, including environmental, professional and academic, have increased opposition activities against granting of permits to grow genetically modified corn in Costa Rica.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
GAIN Report Number:
Post: San Jose
Opposition to GMO corn in Costa Rica
Biotechnology - GE Plants and Animals
Kelly Stange, Agricultural Attaché
Victor Gonzalez, Agricultural Specialist
Several groups, including environmental, professional and academic, have increased opposition
activities against granting of permits to grow genetically modified corn in Costa Rica. Although the
corn would be grown for seed reproduction purposes and not for commercial production, environmental
groups continue to put pressure on the technical commission in charge of the decision.
Opposition to planting of GMO Corn grows in Costa Rica
The National Bio-safety Commission is reviewing the Delta and Pine Corporation application to plant GMO corn
for exporting the seeds. However, over the last few weeks several groups have expressed opposition to the
plantation of GMO corn for seed re-exporting purposes by Delta and Pine Corporation (a subsidiary of
Monsanto). Some of these groups include the Biology Department at the University of Costa Rica, the
Association of Agronomists, and several environmental groups. Groups opposed to genetically modified corn
argue that the transgenic varieties for which permission is being requested could interbreed with local corn,
thereby affecting its characteristics. They also argue against the use of patented corn varieties and the higher
price that producers may have to pay. However, they have not indicated publicly that the varieties in question
are not going to be sold commercially in the country.
Transgenic soybeans and cotton, and to a lesser extent corn, have been grown in Costa Rica since 1991. The
purpose of production has been seed reproduction and export of the seed, not local commercial production. In
addition to the products mentioned above, field trials have been approved in Costa Rica for transgenic bananas
and pineapples in the past five years.
The National Bio-safety Commission is in charge of analyzing and approving/rejecting requests to plant
agricultural products derived from modern biotechnology. This Commission is mostly formed by scientists from
government and academia, although two seats are allocated to environmental groups, which have clearly
expressed non-scientific arguments in opposition to allowing corn to be planted. For instance, Fabian Pacheco,
member of the Commission and a representative of ecological groups, has said that this issue cannot be solved
from a purely technical point of view. He says that cultural and social aspects should also be analyzed during
Minister of Agriculture Gloria Abraham said to the press that she trusts the Commission’s decision and that the
official position is to treat this issue strictly on a scientific basis and to avoid politics to get involved in the
analysis of the issue.
A decision was scheduled to be made on December 3, 2012. However, the Commission decided to postpone
the decision because two of the members requested additional information from the company. There is no
specific deadline for the Commission to issue a report since that will depend on the time the company needs to
provide the additional information requested. The Commission conducted hearings on December 4, 2012 with
the participation of several individuals from the academic sector and environmental groups.