The new modality of transgenics 2.0, called genome editing, is gaining space in the South American region, promoted by agribusinesses and putting at risk biodiversity, food quality and the productive and food sovereignty of peoples.
This new way of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) It has already been approved in Paraguay, without debate and with suspicious secrecy on the part of the competent authorities.
“The world is witnessing a resurgence of interest in genetically modified seeds and cropswarns a recent report by the organization GRAIN.
As in the past, biotech companies and agribusiness are touting their new biotech plants as the silver bullet to solving humanity’s problems, from food and nutrition insecurity to climate change and biodiversity loss.”.
Biotech companies are quickly promoting their new GMO 2.0 as “new plant breeding techniques, since some of these new techniques, such as gene editing, do not require the insertion of an external gene, the biotech industry, as well as some government agencies, claim that these products gene editing should not be considered or regulated as transgenic”.
While several countries in the Asia-Pacific region are discussing whether these GMOs should be regulated with the same regulations as the already known transgenics.
The report recounts the experience of struggle and resistance of the people of Japan, the Philippines, China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Australia, against these new technologies of agribusinesses.
What is gene editing and what is happening in Latin America?
Genome editing encompasses a broad field of genetic engineering techniques used to edit parts of the genome in almost all living organisms. This new biotechnology is gaining popularity as it is considered to be a faster, cheaper and comparatively simpler genetic modification technique.
Most of the gene editing process involves creating a new product by cutting or deleting tiny segments of DNA, without necessarily involving transgenics (introduction of “foreign” genes from other species).
Numerous surveys prove that gene editing technologies and their applications clearly meet the definition of “modified organism”, whether they insert, delete or modify genomic sequences, among the many techniques used in gene editing , the most popular is that known as CRISPR.
This technique typically uses a type of DNA cutter called “Cas9”, which is why it is often called the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system.
GMO Warnings 2.0
In the With Soy at the Neck 2021 report, researcher Lis García warned that in 2019, in Paraguay, the legal registration of products obtained through breeding techniques was allowed “behind closed doors and without any debate”, since the promulgation of resolution no. 11.842 of July 10, 2019.
This measure legalizes the introduction of new GMOs produced by genome editing via simplified and less strict biosafety procedures than those that already existed or directly exempting them from biosafety assessment.
The same procedure has been carried out in other Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica with the same aim of avoiding biosecurity controls established for first-generation transgenics.
Researcher Silvia Ribeiro points out that in the applications of CRISPR-Cas9 biotechnology are the so-called “gene drives or drives”. This is one of the riskiest techniques because it is “a way to cheat the natural laws of heredity and force genes introduced into an organism to be inherited by an entire population or even, if it works, an entire species.”
According to the ETC Group (2019), there are about 600 possible uses for agro-industry, among which are applications of this technology in combination with dozens of agrochemicals.
Large transnational corporations (Bayer-Monsanto, DuPont, Corteva, Syngenta and BASF) hold licenses and patents for agricultural uses of CRISPR.
With this, what companies call pests (plants, insects, nematodes, mites, moths and other species, etc.) may be “extinct” or susceptible to certain agrochemicals such as glyphosate and others.
According to data provided by the Directorate for the Protection and Use of Varieties of the Directorate of Seeds (DISE) of SENAVE, no application has been filed to date for the registration of varieties / hybrids with genome editing. in the Registries of Protected Cultivars. in commercial cultivar records.
“It is essential to remain vigilant on the use and application of this technology, because this cutting-edge agri-food biotechnology constitutes a real threat to the agri-food biodiversity of our territories.concludes researcher Lis García.
Originally posted in BASE-IS Paraguay