Large-scale cultivation of GMOs will not take place in Iran (23/3/2006)

Much hyped claims by pro-GM lobbyists that GM rice had been given the commercial go ahead in Iran have been massively overstated.

Large scale cultivation of GMOs will not take place
by Leyla Lotfi Shargh Newspaper, Iran
translated by Maryam Rahmanian, CENESTA, Iran
18 December 2005

Jafar Khalaghani, the Director of the Agricultural Research and Education Organisation (AREO), explained yesterday that there has been a change in policy regarding GMOs. In recent years and especially last year the large scale cultivation of GMOs, in particular genetically modified rice, was one of the most important topics discussed by the Ministry of Jihad for Agriculture and the Department of Environment (DOE), but no clear position was reached during the tenure of President Khatami. This is because the decision makers of the Ministry of Jihad for Agriculture at the time stressed the importance of large scale cultivation of GMOs and especially GM rice. And on the other hand, the decision-makers of the DOE insisted on no large scale cultivation for scientific reasons.

But under the new government the new Minister of Jihad for Agriculture and his deputies have decided to pursue large scale cultivation only on condition of approval from relevant international organisations and approval from Iran's National Biosafety Committee (which consists of the heads of the Ministry's of Health, Jihad for Agriculture, Science and the head of the Department of Environment and is headed by the office of the President of the Republic).

Khalaghani stressed that the new policies of AREO do foresee the large scale cultivation of GMOs, but only if these two conditions are met. "If these conditions are not met then the Ministry will not approve the large-scale cultivation of GMOs".

He described the new policies of the ministry as prioritising food security which includes the two dimensions of self-reliance and healthy food which he said were equally important.

He added that in addition to the issue of health, the issue of exports was important with regard to GMOs because if some of the country's exports are not up to [international] standards then the export of other products will also be affected.

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