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How Peru won my heart

The diversity of plant species extends well beyond what we see in supermarkets. Yet, Agribusiness has removed nearly all diversity from our supermarket shelves.

If you know me personally, you know that Peru (and Machu Picchu) are on the top of my list of places I want to travel.  If not, maybe you’ve read other posts on my blog that aim to raise awareness about global food issues, particularly in the Americas.  Not that other places aren’t beautiful, as I can name 50 locales to which I’d love to travel, but small countries in South America are making great waves – and this week, I’m celebrating Peru.

Last week, while we were stuffing our faces with stuffing (likely made from GMO wheat in the bread), corn bread (likely made from GMO corn), or gravy (made with fillers from GMO soybeans), Peru’s ban on genetically modified seed went into effect.

This all stemmed from research conducted by the Peruvian Association of Consumers and Users that found that about 77% of foods on supermarket shelves contained GM ingredients – some of which are labeled an some aren’t.

The previous government administration was pro-GMO but the change in administration opened a window of opportunity.  It also helped that Peru is one of the world’s largest exporters of organic foods (totaling about $3 billion).

Anyway, the new law is now in effect and there are (of course) some kinks that need to be worked out, but here are some highlights of the new law:

  • It prohibits the importation, production and use of GMO foods in the country
  • Violating the law may cost up to $14 million
  • It protects Peru’s highly varied native plant species (which would have been effectively destroyed by the use of GM seeds)

What can Americans take away from this?  In a country who relies on food as their largest export, and whose supermarkets are just as laden as ours with foods containing GM ingredients, the demands of the people are heard, despite the influence of AgriBusiness.  When their power and influence is less, as it is in Peru, policies are based on the heath and needs of the people, rather than logrolling business interests.   I dream of a world in which our government operates solely to meet the needs and best interests of the people.

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