Modified corn opponents march to give their side

Opponents of a genetically modified strain of corn are on the highway visiting communities to present their case.

The activists plan to hike 200 kilometers from Matambú, Guanacaste, to San José. They oppose the introduction to Costa Rica of a modified corn strain that resists herbicides. Farmers who plant the modified corn can use certain chemicals on the fields to kill weeds without damaging the corn plants. The march started Sunday.

The proposal to use the modified corn seeds is before the agricultural ministry’s Comisión Técnica Nacional de Bioseguridad. A local subsidiary of Monsanto, Delta & Pine Land y Semillas del Trópico S.A., has sought permission to plant the modified corn.

Among other arguments by opponents is that the pollen of the modified plants will pollute other corn plants because the pollen is distributed by the air.

The marchers represent a number of environmental organizations, including the Bloque Verde.

At the same time Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica released a letter it sent to the Comisión Técnica Nacional de Bioseguridad listing reasons why the application should be denied. Among the claims in the letter is that Guanacaste was part of the ancestral center of corn cultivation.

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