GMOs Debated on Cuban TV

HAVANA TIMES — For the first time ever on Cuban television, the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the island’s agriculture was debated on Wednesday night.

On one side was Dr Carlos Borroto, the deputy director of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, while on the other was philosopher Carlos Delgado.

Borroto, the main promoter of GMOs on the island, said on the primetime TV program “Pasaje a lo desconocido” (Journey to the Unknown), that 100 percent of the corn imported for human consumption on the island, as well as more than 80 percent of the soybean yield, is now transgenic.

For his part, Delgado advocated the right of citizens to know about and to be able to decide on the type of food they prefer for their diet. At the same time, he questioned several aspects of the “technological package” associated with these types of modified crops and he questioned their supposed safety with respect to ecosystems.

The approval process for biotech crops on the island has been plagued by irregularities and violations in the protocols of their use, according to reports dating from 2010.

Nonetheless, the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology currently has more than 20 research and development projects aimed at agro-biotechnology. Among those that stand out are ones applied to corn, rice, soy, fish, pigs and cattle.

Products such as soybeans and maize are currently produced here by militarily-run companies, while their products are sold without any labeling information on their biotech origins.

3 thoughts on “GMOs Debated on Cuban TV

  • Why not invite one or another agroecologist, soil scientist, or organic food researchers to debate the GMO Official? The long term effect on humans– science of GMO products has not been tested, in addition the farming with toxic chemicals depletes the soil (air and water) and harms workers. That part of the production of high yields only holds for a few years and then declines. Evidence in Altieri, Rosset, Buttel, Gliessmann and others. Havana times cuts the story short. In the US there are no less then three major organizations trying to label as well as replace/ban and stop Monsanto GMO production – high investment same as Green Revolution –fake rev… that the Cubans rejected in the 1990s. The old Soviet and US models were replaced by organic- agroecological, permaculture etc farming producing healthier food and ecologically beneficial to the environment. Why go backwards to prove a fake advance?

  • Let’s hope this debate leads to reform in labeling at the least. Both posting and considering the labeling content in Cuba and everywhere is a minimum needed. Science is great, but not if administered in secret.

  • In 2011, 57% of the 700,000 metric tonnes of corn imported by Cuba came from the United States. Brazil & Argentina supplied most of the rest of the corn imports.

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