Peru established a ten year moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMO). The moratorium cannot be implemented until the Implementing Regulations are published.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
Required Report - public distribution
GAIN Report Number:
Agricultural Biotechnology Annual
Gaspar E. Nolte
Peru established a ten year moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMO). The regulation
appoints the Ministry of Environment (MOE), militantly anti biotechnology, as the focal point and main
responsible agency for biotechnology and gives the Ministry of Agriculture, through INIA (the national
agricultural research service), a secondary role enforcing the regulation. The moratorium cannot be
implemented until the Implementing Regulations are published.
Section I. Executive Summary:
On December 9, 2011, President Humala ratified Law 29811 establishing a ten year moratorium on genetically modified
organisms (GMO). The regulation appoints the Ministry of Environment (MOE), militantly anti biotechnology, as the focal
point and main responsible agency for biotechnology and gives the Ministry of Agriculture, through INIA (the national
agricultural research service), a secondary role enforcing the regulation. The moratorium contemplates three exceptions:
GMOs for research in a confined environment, GMOs used for pharmaceutical or veterinary products and GMOs for food,
feed or processing. However the latter will have to go through a risk assessment process which has not been defined yet.
The MOE’s main reason to implement this moratorium is to strengthen national capabilities, develop infrastructure and
establish the baselines on native biodiversity which will allow evaluating the release of GMOs to the environment. These
three reasons are merely excuses to delay the adoption of biotechnology which is a demand of a growing number of
agricultural producers. The baseline for example, MOE’s aims at a full survey of plants, insects and micro organisms
nationwide, which is practically impossible to accomplish and has no scientific grounds.
The moratorium cannot be implemented until the Implementing Regulations are published. According to the Moratorium
Law, this had to occur within sixty days of the publication of the Law. MOE circulated a draft for comments among
interested parties which submitted comments. Post has learned that no comments have been accepted nor incorporated in the
regulation. Allegedly, MOE will try to force a very restrictive regulation through the Cabinet.
According to Article 37 of the Consumer Defense Code, labeling products containing GMOs is mandatory. This law which
was approved in March 2011 still cannot be implemented. The law established that the implementing regulations had to be
published within 180 days of publication, however after a year and a half, it is still pending. The main problems has been
that INDECOPI (Peru’s consumer defense institute) is unable to draft implementing regulations that complies with the
restrictive law without interrupting normal trade.
This regulation faces several problems, such as stating that the label must detail the percentage of GM content for each input
that exceeds the minimum threshold of detection instead of the final product, it is not clear what would be the process for
setting the minimum threshold of detection or what are the scientific and technical considerations that would be consider to
establishing such standard, the government has no capability to enforce this regulation since it would have to trace every
input of the food chain and it does not have the infrastructure, personnel or budget to carry out such an ambitious task.
Additionally, if this regulation is implemented and enforced for imported products it could become a technical barrier to
trade with implications in lieu of WTO commitments and the U.S. – Peru Trade Promotion Agreement.
According to the new regulations, the MOE is Peru’s lead agency for biotechnology issues. Theoretically, MOE has to
coordinate policy issues with the Technical Group on Biotechnology (comprised by the agricultural research service, the SPS
agency, and the Ministries of Agriculture and Health); however, MOE often bypasses the group. The National Committee of
Biological Diversity (CONABID), which is a forum to discuss all biotechnology issues. This body is composed of all
government regulating agencies with an interest in biotechnology, private sector, universities and international organizations
such as the International Potato Center (CIP).
Peru has signed and ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; however, approving the moratorium contradicts the
Protocol’s risk management approach. Peru’s MOE is also promoting the signature of the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur
Supplementary Protocol on Liability.
U.S. trade interests lie mainly in the Peruvian agricultural poultry and livestock industries that demand U.S. corn and
soybean meal. Peruvian agricultural exports, such as papaya and mangos, could potentially benefit from biotechnology as
well. Crops for local consumption, such as corn, potatoes, and cotton also have tremendous potential for benefiting from
Biotechnology is not well understood by the general public in Peru. There is a constant, and well organized, misinformation
campaign carried out by anti biotech groups that are permanently spreading fear and non-scientific facts. Capacity building
and outreach activities have been, and are continuing to be, executed by FAS/Lima, to inform and create awareness among
government officials and the private sector of the benefits of biotechnology. In FY 2013, these activities will include
sponsoring seminars and workshops with the public and private sector both in Lima and in provinces, sponsoring Peruvian
scientists to international conferences and taking Peruvian farmers to visit farmers in other countries in the region that have
Section II. Plant Biotechnology Trade and Production:
Peru imports biotechnology crops, including soybeans, corn, and cotton. Main GM suppliers to Peru are Argentina, Bolivia,
Paraguay, and the United States. Peruvians utilize soybeans as a major source of protein. In Peru, soybeans are used for
animal feed, direct consumption, and for processing into oil.
Peru does not commercially produce any biotechnology crops. However, the International Potato Center (CIP - Centro
International de la Papa) in Lima has developed a genetically modified potato engineered to repel the potato moth. The
potato tuber moth (Phthorimaea operculella) is the main cause behind the decimation of warehoused potato stocks
throughout Peru (and many other countries as well). At present, Peruvian farmers use vast quantities of pesticides to control
the moth, which places their health and the environment at risk.
The CIP transferred a gene to confer resistance to the moth into the Revolution potato variety, which is naturally sterile,
hence allaying fears of genes unintentionally flowing into native potato varieties. Specifically, CIP transferred the Bt gene
(which produces a toxin similar to that produced by the Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium) into the potato, now known as
Revolution (Bt). However, this potato will not yet be released into the Peruvian market because the Peruvian government
has not yet adopted regulations governing the application of agricultural biotechnology
Peru’s National Agricultural Innovation Institute (INIA) has been working on a virus resistant papaya. INIA’s work is at a
laboratory stage but now that the Biosafety Protocol has been approved, they have plans to run their first field trials.
Section III. Plant Biotechnology Policy:
One of the first measures adopted by the new administration was to establish a GMO moratorium. Obviously, the Humala
administration did not think this very well trough since it has been unable to draft implementing regulations to apply the
The previous administration had rejected similar initiatives to ban GMOs in Peru. At that time, President Garcia argued that
such regulation was incompatibility with Peru’s international commitments on biotechnology and it could result in
commercial sanctions under multilateral trade agreements. He also stated that Peru needed to increase its food production.
Unfortunately all this reasoning has been outdone by the moratorium. The highlights of the moratorium are as follows:
1.Objective: Declare a ten year moratorium for imports and production of GMO products.
2.Goal: Strengthen national capabilities, develop infrastructure and establish the baselines on native biodiversity which will
allow evaluating the release of GMOs to the environment.
a. GMOs for research in a confined environment.
b. GMOs used for pharmaceutical or veterinary products.
c. GMOs for food, feed or processing.
These products are still subject of a risk assessment before being authorized and must comply with the Cartagena Protocol on
risk evaluation, management and communication.
4. Accreditation: All genetic material coming into the country, except the exemptions on Article 3, must prove that is not
5. Focal Point: The Ministry of Environment is the Focal Point according to Article 19 of the Cartagena Protocol on
6. Competent National Authority: The Ministry of Environment is the competent authority and is responsible for proposing
and approving the necessary measures to comply with the objective of this law. The Ministry of Environment establishes the
territorial order to assure the conservation of centers of origin and biodiversity.
7. Surveillance and Implementation of Conservation Policies: the Ministries of Agriculture, Health and Production and
Environment, in coordination with the Attorney General office and with regional and local governments are responsible for
implementing policies to assure conservation of centers of origin and biodiversity, and controlling border movement.
8. Scientific Research Promotion: The Ministry of Environment in coordination with the National Council for Science and
Technology encourages to strengthen scientific and technological capabilities of the agencies responsible for biotechnology
and biosafety, and to contribute the decision making process by suppliers and consumers.
9. Interagency Advising Committee: Establishes the Interagency Advising Committee to develop the capabilities and tools
to manage modern biotechnology, biosafety, and bioethics.
10. Implementing Regulation: The Executive branch has 60 calendar days to issue the implementing regulations of this law.
The Ministry of Environment must report annually to Congress on its results as Focal Point and National Competent
Annul Supreme Decree 003-2011-AG.
Supreme Decree 003-2011-AG was the biosafety framework protocol that would had allowed the government to oversee and
enforce regulations regarding biotechnology. It established the procedures to register and import GM products and seeds as
well as the process for testing.
Previous to the moratorium, Peru had a fairly modern law regarding biotechnology, proposed law N°12033, called “Law to
Promote the Use of Modern Biotechnology in Peru,” waiting to be discussed in the Peruvian Congress. This law had a
completely different approach to biotechnology from previous ones. Instead of referring to the risks of biotechnology and
how to prevent them, it talked about promoting biotechnology and improving Peru’s economic situation by taking advantage
of the benefits of biotechnology.
Section IV. Plant Biotechnology Marketing Issues:
Labeling constitutes the principal marketing issue for agricultural biotechnology in Peru. The Consumer Code establishes
mandatory labeling, however, the Code is yet to be regulated. If labeling is required and enforced based on consumers’
rights, compliance will be a very expensive process for most companies. Labeling would have to include a verifiable
description of production technique and all inputs to production. This topic raises questions such as:
When a product is considered genetically modified? and,
What constitutes the minimum requirement for a product to be genetically modified?
There are several problems with the drafted regulation to Article 37 of the Consumer Code:
The regulation states that the label must detail the percentage of GM content for each input that exceeds the
minimum threshold of detection (TLD in Spanish) instead of the final product. It would be extremely costly and
practically impossible for the Peruvian industry to test every single input that goes into their final products.
Moreover, other countries that enforce mandatory labeling always refer to final products not inputs.
It is not clear what would be the process for setting the TLD or what are the scientific and technical considerations
that would be consider to establishing such standards.
The government has no capability to enforce this regulation since it would have to trace every input of the food
chain and it does not have the infrastructure, personnel, or budget to carry out such a titanic task.
If this regulation is implemented and enforced for imported products it could become a technical barrier to trade
(TBT) with implications in lieu of WTO commitments and the U.S. – Peru Trade Promotion Agreement.
If the regulation does not apply to imported goods then it would discriminate against local production.
It will force the industry establish a testing system.
It would be more efficient if INDECOPI would accept a statement such as “it may contain”.
If and when this regulation is approved and enforced, it could potentially create a serious disruption in Peru’s food industry.
Forcing the industry to test every product and input will cause the prices to rise, thus, affect consumers. According to
industry estimates there are over 30,000 products containing GM elements in the Peruvian market; labeling all of them will
not have an effect in terms of improving food safety or assuring the quality of the product.
Several stakeholders continue to oppose the presence of GM products in Peru. The Minister of the Ministry of Environment
has proposed declaring Peru “free of GMO products” to both protect native products and develop Peru’s organic and natural
food product industries. Several regions, including Lima, have declared themselves GM free. Of course these are only
rhetorical statements since Peru imports significant amounts of GM products that are distributed nationwide.
Section V. Plant Biotechnology Capacity Building and Outreach:
In Peru, US Government/USDA-funded capacity building and outreach activities relating to biotechnology with various
FAS/Lima works closely with the Minister of Agriculture and its advisors in promoting a
biotechnology friendly environment among the GOP.
FAS/Lima also works closely with the Minister of Trade and his staff to assure that they are aware
of the commercial consequences of restricting GM trade.
FAS/Lima has organized seminars on biotechnology for policy makers, leaders of agricultural
industries, academia and congressmen. Seminars are used to raise awareness in the Peruvian
government and private sector on the importance of developing agricultural biotechnology.
FAS/Lima, using Department of State funds and Emerging Market has organized a series of
seminars to raise awareness among small agricultural producers.
USDA, through the CGIAR system, provides funds for CIP to carry out research, including
biotechnology, on potatoes and other tubers.