Activists & Scholars Demand that Cuba Renounce Transgenics

Dmitri Prieto

HAVANA TIMES — Last Saturday, a group of activists and scholars from different nations who describe themselves as “friends of the Cuban revolution” issued an “Open Letter to the Cuban People” with warnings about the use of transgenic plant species in agriculture.

The letter – circulated via e-mail – calls for an “exhaustive public discussion” on agricultural practices based on the use of genetically modified organisms and the implementation of these practices in Cuba.

The signatories feel that the repercussions of using such technologies are unpredictable, “unplannable and potentially dangerous to human health and Cuba’s delicate ecological balance” and that Cuba ought to renounce their use entirely.

Those who signed the open letter, from the USA, Cuba and Spain, declare themselves opponents of the use of genetically engineered organisms in their own countries.

The response of the Cuban government to the open letter is not yet known.

It is significant that the letter addresses the Cuban people directly and not any of the country’s institutions.

The group who issued the letter includes participants to a recently concluded symposium, “Socialist Renewal and Capitalist Crisis”, held at the University of Havana.

Dimitri Prieto-Samsonov

Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.

2 thoughts on “Activists & Scholars Demand that Cuba Renounce Transgenics

  • Cuba already widely uses genetically manipulated seeds according to various sources. They of course have had no public debate on that issue.

  • Whoever wrote the headline for this article by Dmitri Prieto is falsely characterizing both Dmitri’s article and the content of the “open letter” concerning GMOs. The headline reads: “Activists & Scholars Demand that Cuba Renounce Transgenics”. But we “demanded” no such thing. The signers did not issue “demands”. The writer of the headline either didn’t read the open letter or deliberately distorted it. The letter urges full public discussion and expresses hope that the outcome will be rejection of GMOs.

    I would hope that the headline writers at would take care to accurately portray the submissions it posts.

    One separate note about the Genetic Engineering of Agriculture. It is not just the private patenting of genes by multinational corporations like Monsanto, Aventis and others that is a huge problem in the U.S. and the capitalist world. As the open letter makes clear, “once a genetically engineered organism is released into the wild, it will be difficult to recall,” regardless of who owns or controls the genetic sequence. “The engineered genes will drift, invade other plants and reproduce on their own … in ways that are not known, unplanned, and potentially dangerous to human health and to Cuba’s sensitive ecological balance.”

    Mitchel Cohen

    Brooklyn Greens/Green Party

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