Sala IV will take a look at genetically modified corn arguments

Environmentalists report that the Sala IV constitutional court has admitted for consideration a challenge to the way the country’s Comisión Técnica Nacional de Bioseguridad and the rules governing how it operates.

The action is in opposition to the commission’s approval to let a Monsanto subsidiary here plant a patch of genetically modified corn.

Admission of the brief is the first step in a court decision, although the action does not imply agreement with the appeal.

The action asks that the decision of the commission be suspended and that Monsanto’s company here not be issued a certificate to plant the corn. The action seeks that the Sala IV consider all aspects of the issue. The appeal was lodged Dec. 12, but word that it had been accepted for study came last week.

The proposal by DPL Semillas, the Monsanto subsidiary, appears to have generated opposition throughout the agricultural community. Even the nation’s beekeeping organization came out against the idea last week.

The Cámara Nacional de Fomento de la Apicultura said that it feared the honey produced by bees here would become contaminated from the pollen of the genetically modified corn if it were planted as proposed in Chomes. This could cause the honey to be rejected by European union markets where genetically modified crops are prohibited, it said.

A number of cantons have passed resolutions declaring the political divisions free of genetically modified crops.

The country also has some plantings of genetically modified cotton and pineapple as experiments.

The seeds from the Monsanto corn are to be exported. The modification to the plant is to increase resistance against some diseases and to make it resistant to herbicides so that corn fields can be sprayed to kill weeds without damaging the crop.

Genetic modifications are seen in some quarters as a way to make the next big advance in feeding the world. But the concept also has generated fears and opposition. Environmentalists here say that the genetically modified corn might pollute the gnome of Costa Rica’s corn. They also oppose the idea that farmers should purchase hybrid seeds each year instead of planting seeds from the prior year’s crops.

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