Labeling it “a big step forward” in regulating the introduction of living modified organisms (LMOs) into Peru, Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal lauded the regulation that went into effect Nov. 14, enacting Law 29811 which establishes a moratorium on importation and production of LMOs in Peru for 10 years.
The law, which was approved initially on Dec. 8, 2011, intends to impede the arrival, production, and dissemination of LMOs in the country for use as crops or livestock, including aquatic organisms, out of fear of contaminating Peru’s indigenous plant and animal populations if the transgenics were released into the environment.
According to Pulgar Vidal, the policy “strengthens research and competitiveness based on native crops and crop diversity. This regulation has two major parts, regulatory and capacity building. The Ministry of Environment is the national focal point and competent authority to enforce the regulation, establishing the protocols and coordinating actions with the appropriate authorities to control cross-border movement.”
An important piece of the regulation is that it classifies offenses and establishes penalties, including fines up to 36.5 million nuevos soles (US$14.3 million) and the forfeiture and destruction of LMOs, for bringing LMOs into the country.
The National Agrarian Convention, or CNA, which comprises small-scale agricultural producers, stated that the mandate “is only the first step to safeguard biodiversity, and food security and sovereignty, in the country.”
“We believe the approved regulation is an important step forward because it takes into consideration mechanisms for control and monitoring regarding the ban on importing living modified organisms (transgenics),” the CNA said in a statement. “At the global level, there is more than enough proof of the grave impact [they make] as well as their incompatibility with the small-scale and sustainable farming model within the framework of food sovereignty.”
Nevertheless, the CNA noted that although the regulation bans the importation of transgenic seeds, “there isn’t regulatory clarity regarding the importation of food produced in other countries with transgenic products.”
Biologist Antonietta Gutiérrez-Rosati, researcher at the National Agrarian University-La Molina, agrees with the CNA. She said the regulation only prohibits the release of LMOs into the environment, without banning the importation of grains or other products for human or animal consumption or for processing that contain transgenics.
“Products derived from transgenics, like oils or processed products, can still be imported,” Gutiérrez-Rosati said, according to media reports. She added that “if one person wants to import LMOs, the authorities will ask what they are for, and if the answer is to plant [crops], they will tell them no. But if it’s [feed containing transgenics] being imported for poultry, they won’t have any problems.”
Moreover, so far the labeling of products containing genetically modified organisms has not been respected, although the Consumer Protection Act of October 2010 established this requirement. In March 2011, the government’s National Institute for the Defense of Competition and Protection of Intellectual Property gave food producers a year to include transgenic ingredients on their labels; the final decision rests with the chairman of Peru’s Council of Ministers, however, because there is controversy over the percentages required for labeling to be mandatory.