Committee: Food and Agricultural Organization Topic: The Use ...


Dec 12, 2012 (4 years and 6 months ago)



Food and Agricultural Organization


The Use, Production, and Trade of GMOs and GMO Crops


The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka


Mimi Barress, Lexington Montessori School

A genetically modified organism or GMO is an organism whose DNA has
been altered using genetic engineering techniques (Wikipedia,
Modified Organism
). The use of genetic engineering in food sources was
introduced to the global market in 1996. Th
ese methods of farming are typically
used in the production of soybean, corn, canola, rice, and cottonseed oil, but are
also part of the growth of other food crops. As of 2010, 10% of the world’s
farmland is planted with GMO crops (Wikipedia,

Genetically M
odified Food

Due to the limited experience the world has had with GMO crops, no major
issues concerning the method have arisen, and the United Nations hasn’t come
around to discussing it yet. As of 2012, there are no documents or resolutions on
the su
bject. With the introduction of this technique only sixteen years old, we still
know very little about its long
term effects. The rise in popularity of GMO crops
has arguably been the cause of better food security. Greater crop yields means
more food for m
ore people, but genetic modification also has its share of negative
qualities. The use of GMOs limits agricultural biodiversity, which heightens the
risk of widespread crop loss. This can occur with the introduction of new pests
and natural disasters, as w
ell as the loss of food and habitat for wild plants and
animals. For the above reasons, a heated debate with regards to this method is
currently taking place. No one is quite sure of the impact on the organisms
consuming, nor on the effect of GMOs on the p
rofession of agriculture worldwide
FAO Background Guide, pg. 4

Historically, The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has tried to
minimize the production and trade of GMOs, within and outside of the country.
This intolerance is mostly due to t
he untested nature of the products and the
effects it might have on consumers. Essentially, if any negative statistics arise, Sri
Lankans will be exempt from those effects. Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, their
attempts to rid the country of GMOs has not alwa
ys been so successful.

Quite possibly the most important event involving the country’s opinion on
this issue is one concerning the United States’ importing status to Sri Lanka.
Starting on May 1, 2000, the country’s Health Ministry successfully banned al
genetically modified imports for a year. The ban was a result of the government’s
concern about the untested nature of GMO crops. Exactly a year later, the ban
was renewed after the discovery of several imported chocolates, oils and soups
containing GMOs
. Less than ten days after this renewal, the United States began
to threaten sanctions using the World Trade Organization (WTO). These threats
caused the ban to be postponed until the first of September, 2001. President
Mahinda Rajapaksa sent a letter to P
resident Bush demanding that the United
States stop importing unlabeled GMO products into his country. His demands
were ignored and imports continued to flow into Sri Lanka. By August of that
year, knowledge of the issue had spread and all across Asia, peo
ple were
protesting. The Government of Sri Lanka received hundreds of supportive letters.
On August fourteenth, the Bush Administration was presented with a petition of
200 organizations strong. “Sri Lanka should not be subject to oversight or
punitive act
ion by the WTO,” it stated, “because of its efforts to protect its citizens
from the unknown risks posed by genetically modified organisms."
Unfortunately, their appeals were ignored and that September, The Democratic
Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka was fo
rced to surrender to the United States

Although introduction of genetic modification to the global market brought
all the excitement and enthusiasm of a possible solution for food price volatility,
some countries saw the new development as too unstable for national
consumption. With GMOs becomi
ng more popular in supportive countries and
less so in places where it is banned, friction is relatively common within the trade
agreements of these nations. As an unsupportive country with previous
experience regarding this uncertainty, The Democratic Soc
ialist Republic of Sri
Lanka is familiar with the difficulties that can arise when a GMO positive and a
GMO negative country have mutual agriculture trade routes. To prevent this
friction from escalating again as it did in this case, The delegation of the
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka advocates a prospective UN
resolution. Such a resolution would suggest that all countries promote
inexpensive, trustworthy labeling of all genetically modified products. Under this
resolution, all countries would
be able to keep their agricultural trade routes,
regardless of their traders’ political standing.



Wikipedia, “Genetically Modified Organism,” Time 12 Jan. 2012,



Wikipedia, “Genetically Modified Food,” Time 12 Jan. 2012,



Megginson, Peter. “FAO Background Guide,” pg. 4


Vint, Robert. “Force
Feeding the World,” Time 9 Feb. 2012,