Family farming and climate change in light of the GM moratorium

by | Jul 13, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Image: Andina / Diffusion

Daniela Soberón Garreta, Associate Researcher at the Institute for Climate Policies

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Genetically modified (GM) foods are foods derived from organisms whose genetic material has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally (2021) [1]. This type of food is known as transgenic and arises from the industrialization of agriculture. This process was promoted by developed countries and large food industry transnationals, as they require biotechnology for their production. The rationale for their creation is that they could reduce hunger among their population at reduced costs. However, the impact on economies with diverse agricultural resources was not considered, nor how it directly affects the population that depends on their crops for family sustenance.

For this reason, in Latin America, various countries have implemented, considered or are implementing measures to protect their agrobiodiversity, such as moratoriums on GM [2]. This is the Peruvian case, as it is a country recognized for its high agrobiodiversity and as one of the most prolific centers of domestication in the history of mankind, having domesticated crops such as potatoes, quinoa, cotton, among others (INIA, 2020, p.10). However, 54.1% of the working poor population carry out activities related to agriculture, fishing and mining (INEI, 2020, p.75). This is explained in the current challenges for the conservation and promotion of agrobiodiversity in Peru. For example, the low competitiveness of national products compared to exported ones or the excess supply of some products.

Composition of GDP, 2020

Source: BCRP, 2021 – Own elaboration

  • Refers to the manufacturing sector that is part of primary GDP

** Includes manufacturing, electricity and water, construction, commerce, services and their taxes

In view of this, recently, the Peruvian regulator has chosen to extend the validity of a moratorium on living modified organisms (LMOs) for cultivation or breeding purposes, including aquatic ones [3]. During the debate period, there was resistance to the approval of this standard, as it was pointed out that it would affect exports, the availability of food in the country or research in biotechnology. However, we consider it essential to point out the importance of this standard, especially for family farming and how climate and environmental co-benefits arise.

Background

The rules that regulate LMOs in Peru have existed since 1999, with the Law on prevention of risks derived from the use of biotechnology [4] and its regulations (2002) [5], which establish that risk management is carried out in order to avoid the negative impact of the LMO on human health, the environment and biological diversity during the development of a specific activity that uses LMOs [6]. At the international level, Peru ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (2004) [7]. This treaty has laid the foundations for the development of LMOs, as well as for the control of their risks, in the face of the possible social, environmental and economic impacts that they may have, in the framework of exports and imports. Specifically, the Protocol establishes that, when adopting a decision on importation, the parties may take into account socioeconomic considerations for the effects of LMOs, especially in relation to the value that biological diversity has for indigenous and local communities [ 8]. Subsequently, the Law establishing the moratorium on the entry and production of living modified organisms into the national territory for a period of ten years (2011) [9] was promulgated. This was the first time that the approval of a moratorium on LMOs for cultivation or breeding purposes, including aquatic ones, was discussed.

LMOs excluded from the moratorium

Source: Article N ° 3 of Law N ° 29811 – Own elaboration

Since its first approval, the moratorium has had positive impacts. Especially at the level of monitoring and control, through the development of baselines [10] of species such as corn, potato, cotton, native tomato, squash / squash, for example. In addition, exports have not been harmed, as sectors that are more resistant to this mechanism still indicate. On the contrary, even in the context of a pandemic, agro-exports have been positive. In 2020, the balance of the agricultural trade balance showed a positive value of US $ 2.4 billion, explained by the dynamism of agricultural exports (MINAGRI, 2021, p.5).

Agriculture and climate change

According to the results of the Annual Greenhouse Gas Report (RAGEI) for 2017, the agricultural sector generated 26,550 GgCO2eq [11] (Minam, 2017). Of this total, agricultural soils (agricultural crops) account for almost half of the sector’s emissions. This is explained by the massive use of highly polluting fertilizers that generate nitrous oxide in large agriculture or industrial agriculture.

According to the INEI, the importation of fertilizers between 2005-2017 was concentrated in chemical fertilizers, so the main imported product was Urea (32.92%), then Ammonium Sulfate (18.69%) and thirdly Phosphate of Ammonium (17.30%) (2018, p. 999). All the fertilizers used in Peru come from imports, since since 2010, there has been no national production of fertilizers. Despite the absence of local fertilizer production, the volume of fertilizers used in the national territory has had an increasing trend. Between 2005 and 2017, the total supply of fertilizers doubled.

Family farming, for its part, uses chemical fertilizers such as urea, ammonium sulfate or ammonium phosphate to a lesser extent. Approximately 49% of the people who carry out family farming use organic fertilizers, such as guano, manure or organic fertilizer (Maletta, 2017, p.85).

The promotion of family farming is more attractive from several approaches: it generates less climate impact, provides economic support to rural households, and enables the development and conservation of agrobiodiversity. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain the moratorium on LMOs, which contributes to favoring the favorable conditions for the development of this economic activity in the national territory.

Conclusions

  • The moratorium strengthens the food sovereignty of developing countries, such as those of Latin America. This generates greater economic independence from more industrialized countries, since the production and consumption of national unmodified foods is promoted. Additionally, a small agriculture is strengthened, developed to a greater extent at the level of family farming. This type of agriculture represents less climatic impacts in terms of GHG emissions, as well as less use of water resources.
  • During the term of the moratorium, it is necessary to continue the process of strengthening and conserving the genetic resources of national agrobiodiversity. For example, through the proper management and management of agrobiodiversity areas, with high participation of local communities.

[1] They are also called living modified organism (LMO). According to the Cartagena Protocol, these are any living organism that possesses a new combination of genetic material that has been obtained through the application of modern biotechnology.

[2] For example, Uruguay, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras and Mexico.

[3] Through Law No. 3111, Law that establishes the moratorium on the entry and production of living modified organisms into the national territory for a period of 15 years, in order to establish the moratorium until December 31, 2035.

[4] Approved by Law No. 27104.

[5] Approved by Supreme Decree 108-2002-PCM.

[6] See article N ° 14 of Law N ° 27104.

[7] This treaty has been ratified by 173 countries in the world, among which are Brazil, Bolivia and Colombia.

[8] See article N ° 26 of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

[9] Approved by Law No. 29811.

[10] They are tools for risk analysis when requesting an authorization for the release of LMOs into the environment.

[11] Composed of 48% of agricultural soils (agricultural crops), 45% of livestock activity (enteric fermentation with 39% and manure management with 6%), rice cultivation (5%), savanna burning (1 %) and agricultural residues (1%).

Bibliography

BCRP (2021). BCRP Study Notes No. 21 – March 18, 2021, p.4. Retrieved from: https://www.bcrp.gob.pe/docs/Publicaciones/Notas-Estudios/2021/nota-de-estudios-21-2021.pdf

Maletta, H. 2017. Small family farming in Peru. A micro-regional typology. In IV National Agricultural Census 2012: Investigations for decision-making in public policies. Book V. Lima, FAO, p.85. Recovered from: http://www.fao.org/3/i6759s/i6759s.pdf

INEI

2020 Evolution of monetary poverty 2008-2019. Technical report, p.75. Retrieved from: https://www.inei.gob.pe/media/cifras_de_pobreza/informe_pobreza2019.pdf

2018 Statistical Compendium Peru 2018. Agrarian, p.999. Retrieved from: https://www.inei.gob.pe/media/MenuRecursivo/publicaciones_digitales/Est/Lib1635/cap13/cap13.pdf

INIA (2020). Guide for the recognition of agrobiodiversity zones in Peru, p.10.

Ministry of the Environment- MINAM (2017). Retrieved from: https://infocarbono.minam.gob.pe/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/RAGEI_AGRICULTURA_VERSION-FINAL.pdf

Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation – MINAGRI (2021). P.5. Retrieved from: https://cdn.www.gob.pe/uploads/document/file/1636261/comercio_exterior_agrario_2020.pdf.pdf

World Health Organization- WHO (2021). https://www.who.int/health-topics/food-genetically-modified#tab=tab_1

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