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Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.

More Lies about Cuban GMOs

December 22, 2016 |

Isbel Diaz Torres

Luis Montero in a firm believer in GMO crops.  Photo: cubadebate.cu

Luis Montero in a firm believer in GMO crops. Photo: cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES — Dr. Luis A. Montero Cabrera is ready to “destroy genetical wealth which will never be regenerated in the future” in the same way that “forests have been cut down” so as to dedicate this land to agricultural uses, according to his own words published in an interview on the official Cubadebate website.

According to Montero, the promoter of total liberation of GMO use in the Cuban countryside, “serious science has a safeguard so as to prevent any problems that might take place.”

It’s surprising to hear an enthusiastic and rash statement from a scientist’s mouth. If scientists know anything, it’s that control levels and the preventative power they have on technological processes are extremely limited.

Their so-called “controlled conditions” where many of them develop their experiments are sometimes impossible to recreate in another lab, let alone in production processes, where variables are almost infinite.

The question of giving free-rein to GMOs is very serious. Those of you who want to learn more about this, just investigate the impact GMO corn has had in Mexico, the many cases of genetic contamination (crossing native strains with GMOs), in the country which is the birthplace of this crop.

In the Cuban case, whose agricultural body can’t even ensure that urban organic gardens don’t use agrochemicals, for example, is the worst place to use GMO seeds.

In fact, a large part of the scandal surrounding the use of GMO crops in Cuba has surfaced after it was discovered that Cuban farmers were already planting GMO corn, outside of experimental areas, a few years ago.

Let’s face the facts: the effects of GMOs on ecosystems are uncontrollable, irreversible and unpredictable. It’s understandable that government officials want to say the complete opposite, but the only thing they’ll manage to do is to deceive those who aren’t properly informed on the subject.

As is to be expected from anti-green individuals, Dr. Montero doesn’t stop there, but also goes on to claim that “25% of the nitrogen that we have in our bodies (…) has been produced thanks to artificial fertilizers”.  He then comes to the shocking conclusion that “without all the artificial fertilizer that had been used in the 20th century and what’s been used in the 21st century so far as well as what will be produced in the future, then the likelihood is that many of those of us who are here, would no longer exist.”

Photo: www.saludcasera.com

Photo: www.saludcasera.com

These claims don’t appear to have anything to do with GMOs, but on the contrary, this official is setting the landscape for when the time comes to say that this technology involves a tecnology packet which includes a certain pesticide and herbicide, which of course, will limit farmers’ autonomy, and the country too.

The most naive thing I read in this interview though was how he lightly criticized GMO seed multinationals, like Monsanto (the main player on the global GMO market). “A contribution would be to break down the monopoly of the manufacture of these products a little. If only a lot of the countries in this world that don’t have monopoly interests, also produced GMOs…,” Montero said, as if global monopolies could be defeated with a simply “if only”.

The truth is that Cuba will extend its GMO corn and soy crops in 2017, and accordingly, the First Vice-Minister of Cuban Science, Technology and the Environment, Fernando Gonzalez, traveled recently to the US, I’m pretty sure he DIDN’t go to ensure the country’s food sovereignty.

Moreover, the German company Bayer recently bought out the US multinational corporation Monsanto. And, if they didn’t know, Bayer has been present in Cuba for many years, trying out its chemical products on our farm land.

Therefore if Bayer is there, Monsanto is also there, and so we have strong oil-dependent agroindustry model for the future, laden with chemicals, and based on mass harvests: without a doubt, it’s going to be a strong blow to Cuban farming.

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  • Carlyle MacDuff

    People are living longer – Canada for example is a major producer of canola with a very high percentage being GMO yet the expectancy of life is higher than in Cuba. There will always be opponents to any changes introduced. Remember the outcry against organ transplant, the outcry against ovum transplants – yet hundreds of thousands have survived or been born as a consequence. There is a recognized shortage of food in Cuba – failure to produce is the problem, that is why people are hungry. It has nothing to do with GMO.