Argentina halts expansion of genetically engineered soya

Press release - 18 June, 2004
Argentina, one of the world's main soya producers, has banned any further expansion of land used to grow genetically engineered soya in Santiago del Estero, a key region in its plans to increase soya production. (1)

"This is the first time Argentina's taken action to stem the tide of genetically engineered soya that has swept our agricultural landscape, causing an environmental and social nightmare," said Emiliano Ezcurra, Greenpeace campaigner in Argentina.

The moratorium, which follows months of campaigning by Greenpeace Argentina and others in the region (3), was signed last night by the Governor of Santiago Del Estero, Pablo Lanusse. The ban aims to stop the Great Chaco Forest (2) being destroyed for industrial agriculture and will remain for six months, after which it can be renewed.

Today, over 2,000 people from Greenpeace, farming organisations, the Catholic Church and Universities of the region, marched through the capital city of Santiago del Estero to present Pablo Lanusse with a proposed new Agrarian Policy. They held an enormous banner that demanded "Not in our Food, Not on our Land. GE Soya Destroys Forests".

"Rainforests aren't just worthless obstacles to be removed to make way for genetically engineered soya, but are precious, productive ecosystems that benefit both people and the environment. This should be the start of a government-led roll out plan to stop the expansion of genetically engineered soya across Argentina, " added Ezcurra.

Notes: 1) Argentina is planning to grow 14 million ha of soya this year. Almost all of it is genetically engineered and is mainly exported as animal feed to Europe.2) The Great Chaco Forest is the second biggest forest ecosystem in the Americas, after Amazon.3) On the 9 May, farmers from Santiago Del Estero and Greenpeace activists created a 'soya border' between the native forest and a clear-cut field using a huge banner, demanding an end to the forest destruction caused by soya production in the province.