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  • Temas Reading List: Biotechnology

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    North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC). Maize and Biodiversity: The Effects of Transgenic Maize in Mexico: Key Findings and Recommendations. 2004. 50 pp. English.

    This controversial CEC report examines the probable impacts of current and future uses of transgenic maize, on the biodiversity, human health, social values and cultural identity of Mexico. The report’s release was delayed in part due to US objections to some of its contents, although Greenpeace had leaked some of its contents to the media in a bid to force its release. The report concludes that transgenic maize may not threaten the genetic diversity of Mexican maize any more than genes from “similarly used modern cultivars” (i.e., non-GMO hybrids). However, given that most Mexicans still fear the impact of GMOs on an important cultural symbol (maize), the report recommends strengthening the existing Mexican moratorium on transgenic maize, perhaps by new import controls and requirements that imported maize from the US be labeled as potentially containing GMOs if they cannot be reliably certified as GMO-free. The report also suggests that the CEC consider harmonizing biosafety regulations.


    Bárcena, Alicia; Katz, Jorge; Morales, César; Schaper, Mariannne, eds. Los transgénicos en América Latina y el Caribe: un debate abierto. Published by ECLAC/CEPAL. Spanish. 2004. 396pp.

    This book is ECLAC/CEPAL’s attempt to explore the various dimensions of the debate on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) underway in the LAC region through a series of 11 essays and case studies. Beyond the opening overview provided by editors Katz and Bárcena, the book includes chapters on (1) the advantages and disadvantages of agro-biotechnology; (2) the impact of biotechnology on agricultural production in Argentina; (3) biosafety and transgenic plants; (4) trade policy and GMOs, as seen through the case study of soy in Argentina; (5) trade policy and GMOs, as seen through the case of maize in NAFTA; (6) genetic engineering and the intensification of Argentine agriculture; (7) the impact of transgenics on Latin America and the Caribbean; (8) two essays on intellectual property (IP) rights and GMOs; (9) a possible regional agenda of public and private actions regarding transgenic products.


    Quezada, Fernando. Biotechnology-based Opportunities for the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity Resources in the Andean Region: Recommendations and Strategic Guidelines. Published by ECLAC/CEPAL. English. 2003. 45pp. [Spanish text:]

    This is one of the products of a UN Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC/CEPAL) project funded by the five-nation Andean Community’s (CAN) Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF). The report identifies policies and strategies for the promotion of “sustainable use of the Andean region’s biologically diverse resources.” It urges that, while CAN should learn from what other nations have done, it should forge its own path and policy based on Andean realities. It cautions that commercial exploitation of the region’s biodiversity, through bioprospecting and related activities, should not be viewed as a solution for addressing social and economic problems, but rather as an opportunity to better understanding how natural systems exist and function, in order to create “the necessary scientific and professional infrastructure to extract information and materials in a renewable manner for societal benefit.” “Shared leadership” is needed, and the it might be necessary for different member states to be the focus of resources at different times in order to serve as a model to the others. Beyond looking at budgets and R&D infrastructures, CAN should examine common policies on related intellectual property (IP) protection, bioprospecting, international alliances and partnering, as well as specific projects for commercialization.


    Trigo, Eduardo J.; Traxler, Greg; Pray, Carl E.; Echeverría, Ruben G. Agricultural Biotechnology and Rural Development in Latin America and the Caribbean: Implications for IDB Lending. IADB Sustainable Development Department Technical Papers Series. 2002. English. 78pp.
    The last seven pages of this report address the implications for IADB lending, but the rest of the document provides a good overview of the issues facing LAC nations.


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