Gene-edited crops that do not contain DNA from another species are regulated as conventionally-bred plants unless they contain foreign DNA. The regulation is based on the Organic Code of the Environment, issued in 2019, that established exemptions from very restrictive GMO regulations.
Ecuador’s constitution prohibits the commercial cultivation of genetically modified crops, but the import of genetically modified food is permitted as long as they are labelled. Other than labeling, there are no regulatory requirements for genetically engineered ingredients. The cultivation of GMO crops is allowed for research purposes only. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock regulates genetically engineered crops through the National Agrarian Authority.
2019: Decree 752, Organic Code of the Environment, establishes product-based regulatory framework for “genetically improved organisms” and decides that organisms without foreign genes in the final product are exempt from risk assessment.
2017: Organic Code of the Environment states that regulations for modern biotechnology will focus on conservation and sustainability.
2017: National Assembly of Ecuador approved the Organic Law of Agrobiodiversity, Seeds and Promotion of Agriculture, which approved the entry of GMO seeds into the country for non-commercial research purposes. It also outlined guidelines to “control the illegal use of seeds and transgenic crops”. This facilitated the work of local scientists working on developing disease-resistant GM bananas.
2010: Organic Law of the Food Sovereignty Regime requires labeling of GM foods.
2008: Article 401 of Constitution of Ecuador declares country free of transgenic crops and seeds, except when supported by the President and approved by the National Assembly.
2003: Cartagena Protocol (an international agreement) ratified, which protects the transport and use of organisms modified by biotechnology.
Environmental advocacy groups, including Acción Ecológica, GM Free Latin America and the AgroEcology Fund, are active detractors of biotechnology in Ecuador. The AgroEcology Fund is working with provinces and municipalities to declare ‘GMO free zones’. In 2019, a judge in Quevedo, Ecuador issued a protection order to decommission, eliminate and burn all GM crops in Ecuador in response to a lawsuit filed by two advocacy groups supported peasant organizations. Acción Ecológica said it will maintain its vigilance in preventing new GM cultivations in the country.
- Genetic Literacy Project’s FAQ on gene editing
- USDA Agricultural Biotechnology Annual 2020: Ecuador
- The regulatory current status of plant breeding technologies in some Latin American and the Caribbean countries