GENET archive


2-Plants: State Coucil of Colombia orders environmental licenses for GMOs and stops GE cotton trials

                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  The State Council demands environmental license for those
        transgenics introduced into Colombia as from the approval of the
        Cartagena Protocol (2002)
SOURCE: Grupo Semillas, Colombia, Press Release
DATE:   15 Mar 2005

------------------- archive: -------------------

The State Council demands environmental license for those transgenics
introduced into Colombia as from the approval of the Cartagena Protocol (2002)

In 2003, Dr Hernan Arevalo, with the backing from the Public Actions
Group of the University of Rosario and other organizations such as "Grupo
Semillas" and "Fundacion de Derechos de Colombia" initiated a popular
action, whose objective was to question, from a point of view of
collective rights, the omission on behalf of the Ministry of the
Environment, in not fulfilling its obligations by not demanding from
Monsanto Inc. an environmental license for the commercial liberation of
transgenic Cotton Bt in Colombia.

The main arguments of the claim were based on demanding that the
obligations of the Ministry of the Environment be met, and the
implementation of the Precautionary Principal, that establishes that "the
lack of scientific certainty should not be used as a reason to delay the
implementation of efficient measures".. The suspension of the
authorization provided by ICA for the introduction of the Bt cotton seed
for cultivation in the Caribbean region was explicitly requested in the
claim it In its place it was requested that Monsanto initiate the process
for an environmental license from the Ministry of Environment.

On the 17th of October 2003, the Administrative Tribunal of Cundinamarca,
in first instance ruled in favor of the popular action. The magistrate of
the sentence was Dr Beatriz Martinez who ordered:
1) Protect the collective rights in relation to a healthy environment,
public health, consumer freedom, community participation in decision
making that could affect them and administrative morality.
2) Suspend the judicial instances of the resolution number 1035 of the
10th of May 2002 provided by ICA.
3) Order the Ministry of the Environment to demand from Monsanto to
request an environmental license previous to the import of BT cotton for
semi-commercial tests for the Caribbean region.
4) Send a copy of the case to the general procurator of the nation for
possible disciplinary action in relation to violations of administrative
morality in the approval of the cultivation of Bt cotton in Colombia.

In the face of this decision, the accused interposed an appeal which was
resolved by the State Counsel on the 4th of February 2005 under Dr Olga
Ines Navarrete Barrero.

The State Counsel, studied the appeal of the ruling of the Administrative
Tribunal of Cundinamarca and revoked the sentence of this first judicial
instance. It considered an environmental license not procedural for this
specific case since the application of Monsanto and the resolution
approved for the cultivation of the seed were carried out prior to the
legislation of the 740 Law of the 24th of May 2002, for the approval of
the Protocol of Cartagena for Bio-security.

The great contribution of this sentencing from the State Council, is that
it establishes two obligations in relation to the introduction of GMOs
for cultivation or commercialization, as from the legislation of the 740
Law of 2002:
1) The obligation to demand an environmental license.
2) The follow up of the activities of Monsanto in Colombia via a
Committee that should present reports to the First Instance Tribunal.

In relation to an environmental license, this should be considered as an
additional prerequisite within all other bio-security evaluations that
should be carried out under the frame work of International and National
Standards and of those that at a latter date develop from a national Law
in this field.

In relation to the decision of forming a follow up committee of the
activities carried out by Monsanto in Colombia, it is important to
highlight the concern that the State Council expresses in the face of the
possible impacts that could be generated in the country by the activities
of this biotechnology transnational.

However a weakness of the decision of the State Council is that it
excluded representatives from the civil society in the formation of such
committee, reason for which the claimants and supporters have requested
from the State Council to be included in the formation of this follow up

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  genetically modified crops, a decade of failure - Colombia
SOURCE: Friends of the Earth International
        download part three, p. 32
DATE:   Feb 2004

------------------- archive: -------------------

genetically modified crops, a decade of failure


Colombian civil society was uneasy about the impacts of Bt cotton in
Colombia, particularly fearing the effects on native varieties as the
country is a center of diversity for cotton. Therefore, Colombian NGOs
initiated a popular legal action against the government's decision in
February 2003. In October 2003, a Colombian administrative tribunal
suspended Monsanto's authorization to import, grow and test genetically
modified cotton. The tribunal ruled that the import and testing of this
GM cotton violated the collective rights to a healthy environment and
public health, as well as the consumer's right to choose and the right to
public participation in decisions that can affect the environment. The
tribunal agreed with the plaintiffs that the lack of an environmental
license granted by the Environment Ministry and the absence of the
required Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA, which Monsanto should have
prepared) contravene Colombian environmental laws.

people vs. monsanto in colombian cotton fight

In 2002, the Colombian government authorized Monsanto's GM Bt cotton for
"precommercial" purposes. The authorization, granted by the relevant
agricultural authorities, was the result of a process full of
irregularities. There were no adequate environmental impact assessments,
and the approval was granted after only two field trials in a single
location. Moreover, the role of Monsanto in the authorization reflects a
biased decisionmaking process. Monsanto authored the studies and the
final report about the performance of the Bt cotton, and organized the
field trials. In addition, a Monsanto employee was the vice president of
the institution that advised the government on the final authorization of
GM crops. The tribunal ordered the EnvironmentMinistry to produce an EIA
in accordance with and charged Monsanto with carrying an assessment.
Finally, the tribunal the Public Defender's Office to investigate process
due to potential corruption. This decision constitutes an important for
environmentalists in Colombia, country's first court decision
introduction of GMOs. It also reinforces right to public participation in
administrative decisions that can affect the environment, human health
and the livelihoods Colombian people.

source: Semillas Colombia: [in Spanish]
more information:
Friends of the Earth Colombia: [in Spanish]


                                  PART III
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Colombian priority--cotton
SOURCE: / Syngenta, Switzerland, by Robert Derham
DATE:   22 Mar 2004

--------------------- archive:

Colombian priority--cotton

Colombia looks to expand its portfolio of transgenic crops with the
addition of cotton seeds from Monsanto.

Since the Colombian government's decision to permit the use of transgenic
crops earlier this year, the ICA (Instituto colombiano Agropecuario) has
had the goal of producing its own transgenic cotton seeds for Colombia.

The ICA would like to avoid what has happened in Argentina, where many
farmers buy and sell transgenic seeds on black markets in order to avoid
paying any royalties for the licensing fees. In order to restore order in
Argentina, Monsanto briefly pulled out of the Argentine market until a
later arrangement could be worked out.

Although it is estimated that over 6,500 acres have already been planted
with transgenic cotton in Colombia, the ICA is looking to work with
Monsanto by purchasing licensing rights for their transgenic cotton
lines. Through this line of action, the ICA will be able to better
regulate the distribution of transgenic seeds, and prevent the market
from being governed by black markets.

Mr. Juan Alcides, the newly appointed manager of the ICA, has the goal of
providing Colombian farmers with cotton seeds for sowing in August of
this year.

Colombia's exceptance of transgenic crops has moved it into alliance with
four other Latin American countries - Argentina, Honduras, Mexico and
Uruguay. Brazil should be the next Latin country to officially join in
with the other five.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinäckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
E: coordination(*)
W: <>

   GENET-news mailing list