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Transgenics in Brazil

I apologize for having sent a message on transgenics with a wrong Subject line ("15 days left for conf. Presentation submissions"). So I am sending it again, with the right Subject line: Transgenics in Brazil

Joaquim Moura wrote:

Dear Friends,
Is me again, from Brazil. Now we are facing the danger of having our food modified by powerful (mostly) American technobiological companies. Our media is dedicated to convince the Brazilian population that this move will be of their interest, that will increase the nutritional qualities of normal food, and even will have medicinal advantages. As I believe that natural food has already all the nutritional and medicinal qualities we need, I am trying my best to make people aware about what is in danger for ourselves, nature and our posterous. So I wrote a text about transgenics that I am distributing over the internet, in Portuguese and also translated into English, which translation I would like to present to you, so you can feedback my reasons (and send suggestions about my English text, if you please).
Thank you very much, Joaquim
The English version of the text may be read here:
or here down:

Transgenic food and human rights
Finally, has the nazism won?
by Joaquim Moura - Brasília, Brazil

Global warming, ozone layer hole, desertification, poverty and violence exploding, super bacteria and exotic viruses, end of oil and the civilization based on it, and now, to exasperate the difficulties that our descendants will face, genetically adulterated food.

      Genetically modified food is in the center of a debate badly conducted, though decisive for our future.  For it, are the “biotechnology" industry (I prefer to say “technobiology”) supported by who shares the same commercial interests and professional expectations. Against it, the consumer associations, environmental organizations, human rights groups, and millions of people that around the world start to react to against the changing of their alimentation. Although the main reason that led the technobiology industry to develop transgenic seeds had been the perspective of increasing profits, the reasons they allege are well more refined and altruistic. But they may be easily refuted, as I will show below:

      The highest productivity reason. Actually, many researches found that there is not a noticeable gain; what there is a lot is publicity. Conventional crops, if well managed - even by organic or ecological methods - can be more productive than the average transgenic yield. And they don't demand the farmer to buy new seed, every year, as the transgenic do - they are even patented. Besides, how can we talk about productivity increase when the final product is not the same vegetal originally considered? Modified food is a counterfeit only viable in a society that consider silicone breasts and buttocks so appreciable as the natural ones.

      The reduction of agrochemicals reason. Actually, what reduces or - to be true, eliminates - the use of agrochemicals is the organic, ecological and natural agriculture, also known, for decades, as biological agriculture. I am stressing this fact because the technobiology industry are suggesting that they are truly BIOlogic, as we perceive from their vocabulary: biotechnology, biosecurity, BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization), and even bionourishing – as I recently learned from a Monsanto high executive in Brazil.  Actually, today there are two main transgenic crops in the world. corn - genetically modified to become poisonous to butterflies and worms, - reducing the usage of wormcides -, and soybean - modified to become resistant to herbicides (produced by the same industries that produce the transgenic soy seeds) so powerful that eliminate all the vegetal beings in the area, except those modified to become immune to them. The quantity of herbicides used is reduced, but its intensity (and toxicity) is increased. As transgenic food is just one more extravagance from modern industrial agriculture, completely dependent of the oil industry, the heavy usage of chemical fertilizers and insecticides, fungicides, together with the mentioned herbicides. Such an agriculture is not sustainable and will lead to the death of the soils, the contamination of waters and food, and harms its consumers’ health.

      The international competition reason. The pro-transgenics allege that if Brazil doesn't adopt the “bioagriculture” now, its products will become more expensive than the transgenics offered (at increasingly devalued prices) by other commodity exporter countries as the USA, Canada and Argentina, mainly. Actually,  regardless as cheap the producers decide to sell their produce, the resistance against them is still rampant in the importer countries (Europe, Japan, Taiwan etc.). And this resistance is ever fed when a phenomenon as the mad cow disease or the contamination, by transgenic corn approved only for animal consumption, of bread, tacos and morning cereals sold to people in the US, Japan and Europe. The judicial order that is, today, protecting the Brazilian population from eating modified food (the judge listened to a demand coming from the Brazilian Consumer Defense Institute) is already being very useful for our country, because the European and Asiatic rich countries are perceiving that the Brazilian crops are GMO free, authentic and normal food, and are inclined to pay more to assure the quality of their nourishment. More, as Brazil did not adopt - for lack of money - the “modern” productive raising methods (as giving meat to herbivorous cattle), we are not living the mad cow disease nightmare.

      The scientific advance reason. Actually, the "scientific advances" can lead us toward any direction, some according the public interest, other harmful to humanity and nature. We are not questioning against the genetic research, but we should be very cautious about its commercial exploration and radically against its spread.  We cannot accept that the proteins of our food be modified, for this means, at the long range, that also we will be modified, with unknown consequences, more likely to be deleterious. We should be doing exactly the contrary to improve the biologic quality of the human populations nourishment, to better their health and their lives. It is very sad to listen to government high authorities stating "we cannot fail regarding this new technology as we did related to computer science", without perceiving that "we are not machines, people we are".

      The hunger mitigation reason. Actually, the hunger in the world doesn't come from the shortage of food, but from the lack of access to money to buy food or to the  means to produce it. Do they really want to reduce the poor's hunger? Then they should support the poor communities to learn and do urban agriculture, to recycle their organic garbage into high quality humus, to cultivate their health through healthy nourishment (95% vegetarian). And please, actively support to the Brazilian agrarian reform and the small farmers who produce most the food we eat. And more: always demand whole cereals, not refined and impoverish of their vitamins, proteins and fibers. We don't need “genetically enriched" food – stop impoverishing it would be enough.

      The unavoidable risks reason. Actually, the people for transgenics sophisticate when they compare the risks brought by these products with the risks brought by the consumption of medicine drugs (with their collateral effects), or even by the usage of airplanes. They forget that only who needs (or desires) a medication or a travel will take it - while everybody needs to eat, everyday. It is obvious that to change our nourishment will affect the entire population, and our descendants.

Health and environment hazards

      Also, the for transgenic people try to deny the reasons for precaution regarding the GMO, indicated by their opponents. About the risks to health, they allege that, up to now, no health problems were detected among the billions of people who already eating modified food, in the countries that have allowed its commerce. But such an argument is ridiculous, if we consider that this consumption is very recent (about six years) to reveal the effects that will show up after its continuous, increasing, generalized and recombined usage, for some generations. Besides, there are already many cases of allergy being reported, and some few thousand sues in the USA, sued by people who felt bad after eating StarLink transgenic corn, only approved for animal consumption but recently found in many products for human consumption, sold in the USA and exported to Europe and Asia. And allergy is not only coughing, scratching or a reddish skin - it can cause diarrhea, anaphylactic shock, and even death. Stay alert.

         Also the risks against the natural environment, always minimized by the "bioagriculture" promoters, are already being verified, revealing as unavoidable the "genetic pollution" of our environment. Before, we were afraid of the extinction of species; today we are scared about the introduction of new ones, which did not pass through the natural process that has eliminated what could be specially harmful for ourselves. Imagine if the "corn"'s  toxicity that kills worms - it comes from introducing, into the corn, a gen. extracted from a bacterium poisonous to worms - transfer to other plants, related or not to corn? Well, this possibility (and who could impeach a gene to migrate) was already verified in the USA and in Europe.

         It is important to adopt here the "precaution principle" as defined by the scientists concerned about the dangers some technologies (nuclear or genetic, for example) create for the populations. For such technologies and their products, we cannot use the same principle we use for people: “everybody is innocent until proven guilty", but the opposite: the producers must demonstrate that their dangerous products are harmless for humanity at the long range. Of course nobody is able to demonstrate the innocuity of GM food; instead, we may presume that the degenerative diseases, the social violence and the environmental chaos will rise even more.

What you eat you are

         But what impress me more, in this debate, is the fact that we shall fight against enterprises,  academic institutions and governmental officers who don't care about the long range deep impact over our descendants, which will result from the aleatory changes of our food's proteins, from which our bodies are made. Today is just the soybean and corn, but "they" are already researching to modify rice, beans, wheat, lettuce, carrot, papaya, mango, potato and animals. Please imagine this trend for 10, 20 or 50 years of "bionourishing": nobody will know what to eat... Humanity already shows many signs of biologic decadence, of immunology deficiency, of susceptibility to degenerative diseases, of brutalization, and, more lately, imbecilization. To abandon the normal food, provided by nature, for others conceived by very diverse interests, will foster the current decaying process – individual and socially – and increase the uncertainty about the efficacy of any programming designed to reduce it.

         Our governmental leaders and the media state that the future is transgenic, that there is nothing we can do about this inexorability. They bomb us with fake facts about "the book of life at least deciphered", the end of the diseases, and even about immortality. But what we see is the reduction, in the USA, of the area sown with transgenic seeds, due to the increasing resistance in the importer countries and even in the internal market. In Europe and Asia, the regulation becomes even harder, including demanding very clear labeling when there are modified ingredients. And once identified as transgenic, the produce is rejected by the consumers. It is not being a good business, for the companies and their investors, to apply resources in products that nobody wants or needs.

         Anyway, lets stay alert. The Brazilian government and the technobiology enterprises are restless. Recently (December 28, 2001 - between Christmas and New Year, to reduce its visibility), the president Fernando H. Cardoso has issued a "provisional measure" increasing the autonomy of the official agency to permit the cultivation and the commerce of GM food in Brazil, without hear the environmental and public health agencies, which now are stooping the bioalteration of our aliments. It is amazing how a govern that states its commitment against violence and for the human rights (and fill the prisons with users and dealers of illicit drugs), wants push over us - all of us - this technofilth.

Joaquim Moura, publisher of the Happy Newspaper, is ecologist, urban farmer and 95% vegetarian since 1975.
jmoura@hotmail.com  - http://www.geocities.com/jmbmoura/cultmil2.htm

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