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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1110: XXIX International Horticultural Congress on Horticulture: Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes (IHC2014): International Symposium on Molecular Biology in Horticulture

Status and challenges of genetically modified crops and food in Ecuador

Authors:   E. Santos, E. Sánchez, L. Hidalgo, T. Chávez, L. Villao, R. Pacheco, O. Navarrete
Keywords:   genetically modified organisms (GMO), transgenic, biosafety, regulation, crop improvement
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1110.33
GM crops cultivated areas are constantly growing, and South American countries such Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay are among the top ten countries with the largest biotech crop cultivated areas worldwide. According to GM organism databases, Ecuador lacks any GM crop for cultivation or for local consumption. However, import of food components with maize and soy sources from countries that adopted biotech crops such United States and Argentina, suggests the presence of GMO products in Ecuador. According to the Ecuadorian Constitution, the import of transgenic seeds and crops is forbidden in the country, except for a specific permission from the Presidency. The Constitution also states that the Government will control under strict biosafety regulation the use and development of biotechnologies. However, regular controls for the presence of GM cultivars should be established to confirm absence of GM crops in Ecuador. An Ecuadorian biosafety regulatory framework is not yet established; however, different legal documents refer to GMO regulation, including labelling of food with transgenic ingredients if the product contains above 0.9% of transgenic component. On the other hand, no specific requirements for GMO detection is clearly stated including specificity of the assays such as screening or event specific detection. Although a biosafety regulation is not yet established, research activities using GMO is allowed in Ecuador in contained used under proper biosafety guidelines. For instance, research regarding genetic engineering of banana is performed in a public university. This work highlights the presence of GMO in food in Ecuador and tested for the presence of GMO in selected food products.

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