Isbel Diaz Torres

trangenicos puerto rico
Campaign for a Puerto Rico free of GMOs

HAVANA TIMES — A few weeks ago, the multinational TV channel TeleSur put on an evening report about Puerto Rico’s fight against genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The “GM Puerto Rico” program reported how the giant corporation Monsanto uses parts of this Caribbean country as an experimental lab to test GM seeds and the crops they produce as well as chemical treatments linked to GM technology.

Do us Cuban viewers have the opportunity to get a real insight into what agriculture relying on GM crop production really entails?

It’s true that the subject has been touched upon by our media on several occasions, but up until now it’s barely scraped the surface. The program Pasaje a lo Desconocido by TV reporter Reynaldo Taladrid was unforgettable, where doctors Carlos Borroto and Carlos Delgado made an appearance, both of them defending opposite sides of the argument about whether we would benefit or not from this technology.

Cuba has been importing and producing GM crops for some years now and the Cuban people haven’t been informed thoroughly or systematically about this issue. Therefore, you can perfectly watch a national TV report about the miserable situation in Puerto Rico, without my fellow countrymen feeling like it also applies to them.

The risk perception we have here is zero, while some scientific institutions across the pond are playing at their “experiments” and looking for non-bioethical ways to make profits, at the expense of our agro ecosystem and the human population’s health.

We don’t know anything about the struggle independent social and rural movements in Latin America are waging against multinationals focused on agribusiness, the exact same ones who now threaten to enter our island and demand “in solidarity” for the US embargo to end.

A large part of the scientific community claim, in an uncritical and misinformed way, that GM crops are one of the solutions we have to tackle hunger in poor countries, when investigations underway in the US itself have proven that this technology fails to perform, in that it doesn’t beat non-GMO farming practices by any significant margin.

Cuban bureaucrats claim that the Cuban plan is completely different to that of multinationals like Monsanto. However, the only differences that have come to light are the Cuban institutions’ inefficiency, lack of control and transparency.

In over 30 years of trials and 20 years on the market, GM technologies have failed to significantly increase crop yields in the US. Will it be able to do so in Cuba, where we’re lacking in infrastructure, our lands are devastated, with an agriculture minister who doesn’t know what to “invent” anymore?

However, the most worrying thing is the political blindness that Cuban engineers and ideologues are subject to, who still don’t understand that the problem has nothing to do with productivity or yield sizes, but of the innate predatory, dehumanizing, anti-environmental, non-inclusive, vertical and anti-cultural nature of this system that governs food production (including biotechnologies) in Cuba and in the rest of the world.

And there are still people who promote an uncritical “normalization” or “updating” of the Cuban system.

Isbel Diaz

Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.

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