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Genetically modified Soybean Seeds In Northern Belize Print E-mail
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Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:00

Soy BeansThe Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) issued a release on Friday, June 7th confirming the discovery of genetically modified soybean seeds in Northern Belize on May 24th.  These seeds were tested at BAHA's Plant Health Diagnostics Laboratory in Central Farm and were proven to be genetically modified. Further tests were conducted by Eurofins Genescan Laboratory in the U.S. on May 30th confirming tests previously done by BAHA.

The Guardian understands that the soy seeds were modified to resist the herbicide, Helosate, which is used locally to control weeds. According to our sources, the seeds were locally produced. This, we understand, took place after some GMO soy was planted in the northern part of the country after seeds were smuggled into Belize and planted without the knowledge of BAHA. Those bore the seeds and this is what BAHA has detected.

The release states that "since the sowing of GMO seeds is prohibited in Belize, BAHA has placed the seeds under quarantine, and will render the seeds non-viable by milling. The milled soybean seeds will be used for the production of animal feed which contains genetically modified soybeans. Belize currently imports animal feeds which contains genetically modified soybeans."

In a release by the Belize Grain Growers Association issued on May 29th, it states that GM technology should be embraced by Belize and is therefore advocating and working with the Government of Belize to establish necessary policies, protocols and legislation to facilitate research, rapid risk assessment and commercial cultivation of GM crops.

As part of Belize's biosafety policy the BAHA does not allow the importation of GMO seeds for planting in Belize. An attempt to do so was met with staunch criticism in October of 2011 forcing authorities to destroy corn seeds which had been imported to be planted as test plots. That was unsuccessful after anti-GMO critics argued that GMO crops would contaminate local varieties of corn. The argument cannot be said for soy however as a vast majority of soy meal imported into the country for use in feed for livestock and the poultry industry is derived from GMO soybeans. Also persons in the agricultural field explain that the risk of cross contamination with local soybeans is virtually non existent since the crop is not widely grown. The production of GMO soybean is also argued to reduce the cost of soymeal production for poultry and livestock industries.