A district in Uruguay has approved a resolution to make GM food labelling obligatory, following the example set by the capital Montevideo in December 2013.
“The motivation began because of worry over the use of pesticides in Uruguay,” said Carol Aviaga, a senator for the Lavalleja district, in an email. In the past eight years, imports of pesticides have increased by more than 300%, she said.
“We have reasonable doubts, both social and scientific, of how this can affect human health – not just from consuming these GM products, but also from the pesticides that are used to produce these foods.”
Aviaga also said citizens have a right to know what they are consuming. This project will give them the power to know what they are putting in to their bodies.
Though it may seem odd for corporations to change the packaging of their products for a population of only 60,000, Aviaga is confident that other districts will adopt the same legislation, and eventually the entire country. Other districts like Paysandú, Canelones and Colonia have councillors who are presenting the project in the coming weeks.
“Corporations will have to adapt to these new requirements of the citizens. It is the change that other countries have already taken and we are sure it will be the change our country will take at the national level,” she said.
In December 2013, the city council of the capital Montevideo issued a decree ordering that all foods containing more than 1% GM ingredients must be clearly labelled.
Despite its relatively small size, Uruguay is ranked 10th in the world for the number of hectares used to grow GM crops, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. It is ranked fourth in South America, behind Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organisation released a study in which it identified glysophate – a common ingredients in pesticides – as ‘probably’ carcinogenic to humans.