Modified crop foes say they have 85% of cantons

Foes of genetically modified crops have won another victory in that the canton of Alajuelita Tuesday voted to oppose the sowing of such crops inside its borders.

The campaign by environmental activists is seeking to gain similar decisions from the 12 cantons that have not done so. Organizers said that 85 percent of the cantons have agreed to the campaign.

They are seeking the cantons of Cañas, Carrillo, Cartago, Jiménez, Los Chiles, Curridabat, Miramar, Orotina, Pococí, San Mateo, Sarapiquí and Turrubares to do likewise.

The legality of the decisions are in doubt because an agency of the Ministerio de Agricultura y Gandaría is in charge of approving modified crops in Costa Rica.

The campaign really is against Monsanto Corp., the agrochemical giant, which seeks to plant some corn test plots. Genetically modified crops have been planted in Costa Rica for years.

The organizations that oppose genetically modified crops are Bloque Verde and the Federación Conservacionista de Costa Rica. These are basically the same organizations that opposed the Las Crucitas open pit gold mine, petroleum test drilling in the northern zone and other for-profit ventures.

To promote its goals, the organizations said that the Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva will be in Costa Rica next week. She will speak at the Universidad de Costa Rica at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium of Ciencias Agroalimentarias.

There also will be an agricultural fair at the university during that day along with conferences against modified crops from 2 to 5:30 p.m.

Monsanto produces a corn variety that is resistant to its chemical weed killers so that farmers can spray instead of hoe corn rows by hand.

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