New book on GMOs and socioeconomic considerations (28/12/2007)

1.Mexicans Campaign against NAFTA

2.Pandora's Box of ills: soybeans in Paraguay

3.New book on GMOs and socio-economic considerations now available online


1.Mexicans Campaign against NAFTA
Prensa Latina, Dec 26 2007

Mexico - Mexican farmer and social organizations have kicked off a campaign to collect one million signatures to demand that corn and beans be removed from the list of products whose imports will be tariff free as of January 1, 2008.

The National Campaign in Defense of Food Sovereignty and the Reactivation of Mexican Countryside called on the people to sign the document, which also states the need to establish a Congress-controlled permanent mechanism to administer imports and exports of corn and beans, as well as their byproducts.

The campaigners also demand banning transgenic corn, protecting and improving the genetic heritage of that food, which is fundamental in Mexicans' diet, and boosting production.

Other demands are that the House of Deputies approves the Constitutional Right to Food and the Act on Agricultural and Nutritional Sovereignty and Security.

The signatories will back the struggle against monopolies in the agricultural sector and fight hoarding, speculation and deceitful advertisement of junk food.

The declaration also proposes that corn and the cultural expressions linked to it be included in the UNESCO's List of Humankind's Oral and Intangible Heritage.

The campaign is part of a series of mobilizations against the controversial North American Free Trade Agreement, signed by Mexico, the United States and Canada.


2.Pandora's Box of ills: soybeans in Paraguay
by Charles Lane and Dheera Sujan Radio Netherlands, 18 Dec 2007

As the world's hunger for meat increases because of expanding middle classes and changing tastes, feeding the animals to feed that hunger is having a significant impact on our planet's agriculture - nowhere more so than Latin America where forests are giving way to soybean empires.

Paraguay is the world's fastest growing soy producer; its eastern region - 2 ˝ million hectares of it - is devoted to the crop that has brought wealth and development to one of the poorest countries in South American.

But the soybean monoculture has also opened a Pandora's Box of ills - environmental damage to the land, and ill health to its most vulnerable people. Thanks to genetically modified seeds, soybeans are now the country's largest export, worth a billion dollars annually.

The cost to the landcsape

The 300 or so multinationals that have flocked to Paraguay are responsible for the giant storage silos that dot the landscape and the brand new towns conjured almost out of thin air; towns where designer stores and youngsters with iPods give the impression of wealth and development. But the soybean landscape has come at a cost: The Atlantic Rainforest once covered nearly 400,000 square miles from the Brazilian coast through eastern Paraguay toward the centre of the continent. Now, 90% of it is gone.

It's a worry to environmentalists not only for the loss of trees and their role in CO2 exchange, but also because forest cover had helped protect the country's river supplies from contamination by the agrichemicals used to grow soybeans. Javiera Rulli, is a biologist for Bases, an NGO vehemently opposed to farming soybeans in Paraguay. She says 'When you have forest around you can hunt, you can fish you make timber firewood and medicine. People used to live isolated but they had their own natural resources.'

Guarani protests

For Paraguay's indigenous people, the Guarani, the world's growing demand for soy has been disastrous. As they lose their land to industrial soy farms they've taken to camping in the center of Paraguay's capital, Asuncion, as a way to protest. In a park surrounded by high rise buildings with cars and pedestrians whizzing by, Guarani children beat their laundry against the sidewalk while women cook donated noodles over an open fire.

Benito Rivarola a local leader says:

'Yes then they came, Brazilians and other foreigners and they started growing soy and they started spraying a lot of toxins and we ran away. Unfortunately we had to come here to get more land. And we have to beg for money so we can eat. The situation is really sad.'

Death and illness

His wife Beatriz tells the tale of her five month old baby daughter who sickened and died from what she believes are the fumes and toxins of the agrichemicals used on the soy farms. There are other reports of people getting ill from agrichemicals, despite the fact that most of the chemicals that are used have been given the stamp of safety by the US Environmental Protection agency. This anomaly could be due to the fact that many of the smaller farmers haven't been instructed as to their proper handling.

Good governance would solve many of the ills that the soybean monoculture has brought to Paraguay, but for now it's a goal that remains out of reach.


3.Book on Socio-economic Considerations
Available Online Date : 26 December 2007




Dear Friends and colleagues,

RE: New Book on Socio-economic Considerations Available Online

The recently published book by TWN entitled 'Potential Socio-Economic, Cultural and Ethical Impacts of GMOs: Prospects for Socio-Economic Impact Assessment' by Elenita C Dano is now available online for downloading at: http://www.biosafety-info.net/pubart.php?pid=34

Orders for the hardcopy of the book can also be made at our online bookstore: http://www.twnside.org.sg, or from Third World Network at 131 Jalan Macalister, 10400 Penang, Malaysia. Tel: 604-2266159; Fax: 604-2264505; email: [email protected]

With best wishes,

Third World Network


New Book Release

TWN Biotechnology & Biosafety Series 8

Potential Socio-Economic, Cultural and Ethical Impacts of GMOs: Prospects for Socio-Economic Impact Assessment

By Elenita C Dano

Publisher: TWN (ISBN: 978-983-2729-23-5)

Year: 2007 No. of pages: 32


Socio-economic, cultural and ethical considerations related to the use and release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are important aspects but have received less attention than the risks to the environment, health and biodiversity. This paper identifies some of the potential socio-economic impacts of GMOs and argues that they have to be taken into account as they have serious and far-reaching consequences.

The author calls for the use of socio-economic impact assessment as a tool to guide decisions on research, development, use and release of GMOs, before and during their introduction. This is a participatory and interdisciplinary assessment tool which maps local knowledge in a particular societal context where new technology will be introduced, to help decision-makers weigh the potential benefits and risks of GMOs to different socio-economic spheres. In order to be an effective tool for decision-making, socio-economic impact assessment should be integrated into biosafety policies and processes.


Elenita C Dano is an independent researcher based in Davao City, Philippines who has extensive experience in development work, especially on issues affecting community-based conservation and development of plant genetic resources in South-East Asia. She is currently employed as an Associate of Third World Network on a part-time basis, working mainly on sustainable agriculture, biodiversity and biosafety issues.






4.1 Socio-Economic Considerations in Relation to GMOs: Legal Recognition

4.2 Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA)


5.1 Economic Considerations

5.2 Social Considerations






US$8.00 for First World countries

US$6.00 for Third World countries

RM8.00 for Malaysia

Prices are inclusive of postage costs by airmail.

How to Order the Book

Order your copy from our online bookstore:

Contact Third World Network at 131 Jalan Macalister, 10400 Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: 604-2266159
Fax: 604-2264505
[email protected] for further information

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