Iran, religious leaders, intellectuals and activists against genetically modified products: They are dangerous

In the Islamic Republic protests mount against the spread of genetically modified products. A campaign to protect the health of citizens; a "trade war" against the "colonial” supporters of GMO- Israel and the US. Last year, Tehran imported products amounting to $ 5.5 billion.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In Iran protests are mounting against the spread in the markets - and on the tables - of genetically modified organisms among the ingredients of food products. A campaign that involves not only religious leaders - who have recently issued more than one fatwa - but also intellectuals, environmentalists and prominent figures of culture and society. A struggle that is not just about nutrition and the dangers to health, which are also present, but also extends to the "trade war" with Israel, one of the historical enemies of Tehran, one of the main proponents and developers of GMO products.

According to reports from Ali Nourani, head of the Iranian Organic Association, last year the country imported GM products for a total value of $ 5.5 billion. These products, he adds,  endanger the health of consumers.

The expert says that an eventual Iranian decision to move in the direction of GM products makes no sense from an economic point of view. "Iranian society - he said - does not suffer from hunger" and does not feel the need to "move in the direction of GM products, which is equivalent to playing with people's health."

In the Islamic Republic opposition to the use of GM ingredients in the context of food production is growing. Religious leaders are also highly critical of it and have launched more than one fatwa (edict) against the marketing, use and sale of "GM" crops.

Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Alavi-Gorgani is at the forefront of this battle, concerned about the health and safety of his fellow citizens, who would suffer the harmful effects of GM foods. For the Shiite leader the problem is not research in the field, but rather "marketing" of products whose safety and goodness "has not been evaluated from a scientific perspective."

In addition to the health of the Iranians, the ayatollahs fear the hand of Israel, the great enemy of behind the push for genetically modified products. "May God - said Mohammad Alavi-Gorgani – help our dear officials to understand that this is part of the colonial style" adopted by Israel (and the US) to dominate the world.

Along with religious leaders, press and intellectual circles have arrayed themselves against the spread of GMO products. In recent days, the Tasnim news agency published a letter signed by university professors, intellectuals, researchers and activists, and addressed to members of Parliament, as well as the departments of Agriculture and Health.

The legislators’ motion asks for a provision to ban trade in products and imports of genetically modified foods. For some time, they denounce, " these products have entered in the Iranian food chain without consumers are aware." There is "credible information", adds the letter, "that effective tests have not been carried out to evaluate the risks associated with consumption of these products."

In Iran a movement has been founded that presses for the production of genetically modified rice, wheat, cotton, potatoes and sugar beet. And the law provides that the labels must bear the presence of GMO products. The serious harm to the health of consumers, conclude the signatories of the document, is seen in the increase in cases of cancer and other diseases that could be linked precisely to these particular products.

Moreover cultural differences in terms between Iran and the United States were also visible at the Expo 2015 in Milan, where the pavilions of the two great enemies were positioned precisely opposite each other. In the space belonging to the stars and stripes, dubbed "Food 2.0" there was the exaltation of GMOs as "healthy", and a panacea for world hunger. For the Islamic Republic, however, the space was a flowering of traditional and herbal plants typical of the region, including pomegranates, dates and orange trees, aloes, spices, saffron and pistachios.