Costa Rica may be changing stance on GMOs

Although transgenic soybeans, cotton and some corn has been grown in Costa Rica since 1991, groups that oppose genetically modified crops are increasing pressure on the government to slow the permit process for future GM crops.

The Delta and Pine Corporation has submitted an application to the National Bio-safety Commission to plant GMO corn for exporting the seeds. Delta and Pine Corporation is a subsidiary of Monsanto.

In the past few weeks, opposition groups have expressed that they do not want GMO corn for seed to be planted. The groups contain environmental, professional and academic members, including the Biology Department at the University of Costa Rica and the Association of Agronomists. Their concern is that the GM corn, if it is approved, could interbreed with the local corn, affecting the characteristics. They also oppose the use of patented corn varieties and the higher price producers would have to pay. However, they have not indicated publicly that the varieties in question are not going to be sold commercially in the country.

Costa Rica has been growing seed for export, not to be sold commercially within the country for many years. In addition to the crops mentioned above, field trials have been approved in Costa Rica for transgenic bananas and pineapples in the past five years.

A decision was scheduled to be made on Dec. 3, 2012. However, the Commission decided to postpone the decision because two of the members requested additional information from the company. There is no specific deadline for the Commission to issue a report since that will depend on the time the company needs to provide the additional information requested. The Commission conducted hearings on Dec. 4, 2012, with the participation of several individuals from the academic sector and environmental groups.