ASUNCION – About 100 farmers with peasant organizations on Tuesday left their family farms in Paraguay’s interior to attend a fair in downtown Asuncion, where they displayed their native seeds, the basis for their resistance against the advance of genetically modified crops, or GMOs.
The seeds of Paraguayan staples such as corn, beans, peanuts and other crops attracted the attention of civil servants, bank employees and police officers who regularly move through the zone.
With the slogan “Healthy food, sovereign people,” the fair, which will run until Wednesday, seeks to raise consumers’ awareness of their right to have food that has not been contaminated with chemical products.
“Without seeds there is no life. We’re defending native seeds, but some varieties are already being lost because they’re planted beside transgenic ones. The native seed gets contaminated on the genetic level and comes out deformed,” Augusto Acuña, a farmer from Caazapa province, told EFE.
Acuña said that many agricultural producers acquire seeds of GMO corn thinking that they will obtain a better product, but at harvest time they notice that the corn is “lighter, and in two or three months it’s consumed by weevils.”
In addition, the GMI crops require the use of chemical products to fight disease, and when farm animals eat these crops, they get sick and are fatally poisoned, he said.
The risk of contamination also extends to the soil and the subterranean water in the area, including the Guarani Aquifer, the world’s third-largest reserve of fresh water, said Acuña.
He warned that several of his neighbors are having problems with deformities or skin diseases because they consumed water contaminated with chemicals from the big soybean farms in the area.
“We peasant farmers ... eat our own crops. On the other hand, the foreign companies that plant big farms with single crops produce to sell elsewhere, and it doesn’t matter to them if their food is poisoned,” he said.