Despite pressure from the new Administration, the Chilean Congress has still not passed a resolution for a Biotechnology Framework. Progress in the short term does not look very promising, especially in the area of labeling.
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: CI1021
Agricultural Biotechnology Annual
Biotechnology situation in Chile
Rachel Bickford, Agricultural Attaché
Nelson Ramirez, Agricultural Specialist
Despite pressure from the new Administration, the Chilean Congress has still not passed a resolution for
a Biotechnology Framework. Progress in the short term does not look very promising, especially in the
area of labeling.
Section I. Executive Summary:
Under the current Chilean regulations, Chile can only propagate transgenic seeds for export. In food
products, all events must be registered with the Ministry of Health, and the product must be label only if
substantially different from their conventional counterpart.
Despite two bills introduced in Congress to regulate biotechnology, one of them requiring mandatory
labeling and the other to creating a biotechnology framework, the Bachelet administration, which ended
this past March, did not move forward to adopt this technology.
The new Piñera Administration, especially Minister Galilea, the Minister of Agriculture, is seen as
enthusiastic to push forward on passing the Biotechnology Regulatory Framework that has been stuck in
Congress for the past seven years. The Minister wants Chilean farmers to be able to benefit from this
technology. Three years ago, then Senator Galilea was the intellectual author of the proposed
framework to extend the use of transgenic crops in Chile.
Commercially, Chile could be a consumer of transgenic sugar beets, corn, alfalfa, and soybeans (if the
salmon industry were to lift its self-imposed ban on the use of biotech feeds), to name a few crops.
Although not widely publicized, Chile has begun to do landmark research in ?orphan? crops (non-bulk
commodities), such as salmon, pine, stone fruit, apples, and grapes. As part of the government?s efforts
to increase research and development using funds received from copper mining royalties,
Conicyt/FIA/Corfo manage the funds and establish consortiums to do biotech research.
As with many developing countries, the majority of research funds come from the public sector. In
2009 the Government announced a number of programs and affiliations with different universities in the
U.S., Australia and Canada to promote technology transfer and postgraduate degrees with the purpose of
increasing research and development.
Section II. Plant Biotechnology Trade and Production:
Does Chile commercially produce any biotechnology crops?
Chile does not produce any GM crops for sale domestically. However, Chile has propagated transgenic
seeds under strict field controls for re-export for more than a decade. In 2007 Monsanto introduced the
GM soybean into Chile and planted two thousand hectares and the ammount has increased over the
Are there any biotechnology crops under development in your country that will be on the market
in the coming year?
There are no biotechnology crops developed in Chile that could be on the market in the coming year.
Does the country import biotechnology crops/products?
Yes. Chile imports soybeans and corn for use in animal feed.
Does Chile import biotechnology crops/products or planting seeds?
Yes, planting seeds propagate and re-export, not to consume in country.
Is the country a food aid recipient or likely to be a food aid recipient in the near future?
No, Chile is a major agricultural exporting country.
Does Chile produce any biotechnology crops that were developed outside of the United States
and have not passed through the U.S. regulatory system?
Section III. Plant Biotechnology Policy:
a) i. Chile does not have a biotechnology framework in place, only the reproduction of seeds to be re-
exported is allowed under strict control from the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG) of the
Ministry of Agriculture. Resolution 1523 from 2001 regulates this process.
ii. Chile signed the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, but has not ratified it yet. Nor has Chile
established an adventitious presence level for imports yet.
iii. There have been many comments from this new Administration regarding the need to regulate as
Chilean farmers are not benefiting from this technology. It seems that they understand that at the double
standard farmers are facing, when they can propagate GM seeds for export and then must import
soybeans and corn for feed at a higher price. There is some will to move forward with a regulatory
system. This is a change from the previous Administration. An aspect of this change is that many of
the new appointees come from the private sector, and so they have an idea of how the country can
benefit from new technologies.
b) Again, only the reproduction of seeds to be re exported is allowed in Chile, field trials are allowed
but are treated the same way, under strict controls from (SAG); there are no crops authorized to be
commercialized in the country. Unfortunately this year was not possible to obtain the official
information on the authorized crops as the information was declared sensible.
c) Chile allows field trials which are treated the same as the production of seeds, this year was not
possible to obtain the official information as it was declare sensible.
d) The Ministry of Agriculture treats stacked events in field trials and reproduction of seeds as if it was
a single event. The Ministry of Health, on the other hand, regulates the imports and the domestic
production of food products; and requires all events to be registered in the Chile, but if they have been
registered before with FDA the process is faster, on stacked events they require the registrations of all
e) No additional registration is required
f) There currently are no specific rules on the subject of coexistence, but Resolution 1523 of 2001
introduced a traceability system and documentation requirements for all seeds and the fields where they
are planted. As part of the process for every field trial approval, biosafety measures are established,
such as physical isolation from sexually compatible species and post harvest management.
g) The Ministry of Health only requires labeling of the product when the biotechnology-derived
ingredient has different characteristics than the conventional product.
h) Chile signed the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, but has not ratified it yet. There are no visible
intentions on ratifying the Protocol in the near future.
i) As Chile is an agricultural export based economy, with agricultural exports accounting for 15% of
GDP, these reservations have prompted Chile to take a cautionary approach on biotech issues and play a
muted role in international fora such as APEC, MERCOSUR, and OAS, as well as UN and WTO
organizations such as FAO, CODEX, and the International Plant Protection Convention
(IPPC). However, with a strong regulatory system and a greater investment in the technology, Chile
could become an important developing country spokesman in the above-mentioned venues.
j) Until the discussion on the framework to regulate biotechnology-related issues is finished, we cannot
say that there are any trade barriers. It will be clearer once the discussion begins since the labeling issue
is very sensible.
k) Congress approved the ratification of UPOV 91, it was ratified by the Constitutional Court and is
waiting for the signature of the President.
Section IV. Plant Biotechnology Marketing Issues:
The agricultural export sector remains concerned about the trade implications of this technology. They
view the issue from the perspective of how will the uses of transgenic affect Chile?s ?natural? image.
They argue that currently there are few benefits for the products in which Chile has a competitive
advantage (horticultural crops, salmon and forestry).
Section V. Plant Biotechnology Capacity Building and Outreach:
a) U.S. Government or USDA funded capacity building or outreach activities:
Post, in conjunction with the International Life Sciences Institute, has submitted a request for State
funds to fund travel of experts to Chile to increase dialogue among interested parties.
Past biotechnology activities in Chile include:
In 2011, FAS in collaboration with Asia Biobusiness, IICA and the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture
organized a two days Risk Communication Workshop that had the participation of all the Ministries that
in some way or another will have to address the public to clarify misleading information or just speak
about biotechnology. The Minister of Agriculture, Jose Antonio Galilea opened the event.
In 2010, FAS and the State Department organized a seminar to address how Agricultural Biotechnology
can help the region address climate change issues. Post has included Argentina and Peru to make it a
regional activity. Two speakers from the U.S. will participate of this seminar.
In 2009, with the participation of two U.S. speakers, post organized a biotechnology workshop focused
on the international regulatory framework putting emphasis on the regulations in the U.S. This
workshop was intended for law makers, universities government and research centers.
Interact with the centers of biotechnology of the University of Talca, the Catholic University and
University of Concepcion.
Every year USDA funds the participation of several Chilean government officials to different APEC
Agricultural Biotechnology related activities. For example:
Funded the participation of Dr. Ralph Scorza as speaker at the Red Bio Agricultural
biotechnology Conference organized in Viña del Mar, Chile in October, 2007.
Organized a biotechnology/IPR seminar with the participation of high level government
officials and agencies, June 7, 2007, that included the participation of Clive James
(ISAA) and Karen Hauda (U.S. Patent and Trade Mark Office) as main speakers.
Sponsor the participation of the one member of the Chilean delegation to the APEC High
Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology (HLPDAB) held in Canberra,
Embassy Science Fellowship program with the participation of a USDA/ARS scientist
for two months in Chile from May-July 2006.
Ministry of Agriculture Official was sent to a training course in the Philippines in June
2006 on Commercializing biotech crops.
The U.S. Government participated in the Tenth APEC Research, Development and
Extension of Agricultural Biotechnology (RDEAB) hosted by Chile in November 2005,
Post organized a reverse CODEL to the U.S. to learn about the U.S. regulatory System
for Biotech products in July 2005;
We sponsored a Chilean expert to attend the APEC Seminar: ?Creating a Positive
Investment Environment for Agricultural Biotechnology?, in Malaysia in Dec 04;
we organized a panel of experts to address the Chilean Agriculture and Health
Committees in Oct 04;
we sent the President of the Small Farmers Cooperative Confederation to a farmer-to-
farmer training program in Honduras in Aug-Sept 04;
we sponsored two participants to attend the Michigan State biotechnology short course in
August 2004; we hosted a visit to the U.S. of a team of Ministry of Health officials
tasked with gathering information about other countries biotech regulations in Mar-Apr
we coordinated between the Einstein Institute for Science, Health and the Courts
(EINSHAC) and the Chilean Judicial Institute to provide technical training to the
judiciary regarding biotechnology in civil, criminal and family cases in Mar 04;
we organized the HLPDAB in Chile, in Feb 04 and funded the participation of 22
representatives from APEC emerging markets to attend, as well as nine speakers.
b) Country specific needs or strategies for Chile.
Post?s strategies on biotechnology have focused in two main areas over the past 7 years; one of them is
the regulatory aspect of the issue and the other is providing science base information.
The main objective regarding regulation is to have Chile adopt a framework that is science based and
that does not impose trade barriers; to accomplish this goal we have taken congressmen to the U.S. so
they can get knowledge in situ of the regulatory process of biotechnology in the U.S. they met with all
the regulatory agencies and growers to have a better understanding of the benefits of this technology so
they can develop a regulatory system. One of the participants of the group was one of senators that
drafted the framework that is being discussed in Congress.
We will continue focusing on the necessity that Chile adopts a science base regulatory framework as
this is the key stone to begin trade.
We have organized and, we will continue organize biotechnology seminars with universities and
researches with the participation of U.S. scientist and speakers; we believe that the more information we
provide, the better the public will be informed, and fears about biotech products will be eliminated.
Section VI. Animal Biotechnology:
I. Development and Use:
No genetic engineering in animals is being used in Chile.
b) There is no regulation in place; the discussion will start when they begin to review the proposed
framework in Congress.
c) We believe that regarding genetic engineered animals the government entities that might have a role
will be The Ministry of Health in all issues concerning human health and food safety; the Ministry of
Agriculture through its SAG office in issues concerning animal health and the new created
Environmental Ministry in issues related to the environment.
d) The current draft framework introduced to the Congress only deals with vegetables, animals have not
yet been considered in any of the proposals.
III. Stakeholder/Public Opinion
The issue of GMO animals has not been on the table of public discussion, even at a government level
the only concern for the moment are the vegetable GMO, I believe the discussion will begin after the
framework for vegetables is approved. At the moment animals have not been mentioned.
IV. International Organizations:
GMO animals have not been considered by Chile in any International discussion.
V. Outreach, Needs and Strategies:
a) The main strategy is to monitor what happens with the discussion and provide as much science base
information as possible when the discussion begins.