No to GMO in Argentina?

| Foreign Markets |

Few of us have forgotten the Argentinian economic crisis, whose worst period came in 2001-2002. Economic problems have been overcome since then, also thanks to investments in agriculture and increased investments in soy production. At the moment, Argentina is one of the leading manufacturers of soy in the world. However, the cultivation of this crop also sparks some controversy.

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The GMO issue

| Enviromental Protection |

The question whether to allow the cultivation of genetically modified organisms is a topic which is more and more frequently present in the public debate. Plenty of controversies and contradictory opinions have surrounded the issue over the years. Unfortunately, in many countries the topic is neglected and only discussed in the context of consumption, consumer choice and nutrition. At the same time, the aspects regarding agriculture and development of agriculture are being neglected. On top of that, we are unable to foresee the long-term consequences of the consuming GMO’s for human health and functioning. This puts the whole discussion about GMO use and consumption into question.

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Protests of German farmers

| Foreign Markets |

Opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the USA and Europe, and demand to support environmentally-friendly agriculture were the two main reasons why 30,000 activists and farmers took to the streets of Berlin on January 18th, 2014.

No to GMO

The chief threats resulting from the transatlantic agreement, which is to be ratified by the government in Washington and the EU authorities in Brussels, include the risk of foodstuffs containing genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) flooding the European market. Farmers and activists from a hundred organizations working for the environment expressed their concern about the impact of American GMO’s on EU agriculture, animals, environment and the consumers of food products.

Postulates for the government

The protesters gathered in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office to call for an improvement of the quality of the produced food, and for curbing the power of huge investors who control vast acreages of land. They argued in favor of supporting organic plantations and young farmers, as well as for renewed efforts to combat world hunger.

A strategic moment

The timing of the protests was deliberate, as one of the largest agricultural fairs were inaugurated shortly afterward, at the end of January. Also, on January 18th, a meeting of tens of Ministers of Agriculture from all over the world was held in Berlin. In such circumstances, the voice of 30,000 protesters could not go unnoticed.

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GMO remains a bone of contention

| Foreign Markets |

In July 2013 the European Union and the USA opened negotiations regarding a free trade area called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the two entities. Some issues have proved particularly problematic, though, and the road to consensus does not look smooth.

What TTIP can provide

TTIP is likely to become a breakthrough move for the global trade. The initiative involves lifting the barriers in the traffic of goods, services, public orders and investment. Seeing that transfer of goods between the EU and the USA is the largest such exchange in the world, worth 2 billion EUR daily, the savings resulting from a free trade area might reach 120 billion EUR per year.

A few objections remain

The EU is particularly concerned about the possibility of the European market being flooded with genetically modified food. EU member countries are very strict about GMO use, due to obvious reasons: introducing genetically modified organisms to the natural environment means interbreeding, which might trigger wholly unpredictable changes in plants. The US Senate Committee on Finance is under pressure from the American farmers and has stressed the requirement that EU must ease the limitations concerning GMO.

In search of a solution

EU is known for prioritizing sustainable farming. Therefore, European agricultural producers are certain to oppose the idea of relaxing GMO trade rules. However, the stake here is making trade easier for thousands of enterprises, bringing financial benefits for million of inhabitants of EU countries and the USA. Is GMO to become the issue which signing TTIP will depend on? Will lobbyists manage to persuade either side to make concessions? We must wait and see what the second round of negotiations in December will bring.

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