Beans are one of the most important food on the Brazilians diet, along with rice and cassava. Who has never ordered a dish of rice and beans to experience the most traditional Brazilian cuisine?
Actually, thinking about rice and beans, made me remember that in 2010, a variety of genetic modified rice was almost approved. But after claims from several groups, the transnational company responsible for the variety, Bayer, temporary withdrew the release process.
In this bean case, the argument is that the modified variety is resistant to a virus that has a high potential to destroy the crops. Lossless, the expectation of who is in favour is the fall in the price of beans in the market.
But not all were favourable. According to some members of the Commission, there haven’t been developed satisfactory studies on the impact of this technology on human health yet and the possibility of a contamination of conventional beans seeds.
Even the representative of the Ministry of Health in the Commission voted to postpone the decision, arguing that some adjustments were still needed. But it wasn’t enough. With 15 votes in favour, the variety was approved.
Data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, an official research Institute from Brazilian government, shows that the Brazilian family farming produces 70% of the beans consumed internally (the second culture most produced; cassava is the first one, with 87%). My question mark is: how can this discussion be made without the participation of family farming, the major responsible for bean production in Brazil? It’s important to highlight that this modified seeds will be commercialized, which means, seeds producers will sell the modified seed to farmers. Where is the farmer autonomy, then? Should they pay for each produced seed?
GMO's production and the use of agrochemicals are increasing dramatically in Brazil, that received in 2008 the gold medal for being the country most consumer of agrochemicals. Aware of this, a series of national social movements launched this year a Permanent Campaign against Agrochemicals. Also in 2011, a spectacular documentary was launched. “The poison is on the table” shows with empirical cases the negative impacts of the use of agrochemicals especially in people's lives - from producers to consumers.
Some people say agrochemicals and GMO's are required to produce enough food for a growing world population. Thousands of poor Brazilians "need to eat food with defensives/pesticides", because this is the way to make cheap food, said the president of the National Confederation of Agriculture (mean, agribusiness) and Senator. Interestingly, in 2010, the agribusiness advocated by this Senator received 100 billion reais from the government. This money comes from the pockets of poor people who eat poison with every bite they take. On the other hand, a tiny amount of 15 billion reais was left for family farmers. Then, I raise a second question mark: what if all this was invested to support family farmers and a poison and GMO free production?Despite critics, the approval shows us that this struggle is very hard. There are a hundred of others Senators and Deputies advocating in favour of agribusiness. "The thieves are faster than us" said Eduardo Galeano, in the documentary. And if so, what they are stealing from us is one of the most vital things, a healthy life!