President Rafael Correa says it was a mistake to ban genetically modified crops in the constitution adopted in 2008, and suggested he may seek an amendmendment to legalize the practice.

In television interviews and in his weekly address to the country, praised the potential of biotechnology to develop plants resistant to diseases. "By allowing the use of genetically modified seeds we can increase crop production and reduce the misery felt by our poorest citizens,” Correa said in an interview. "We made a mistake in the constitution," he said.

Alberto Acosta, president of the Constitutional Assembly that drafted the new constitution, responded to the president by claiming that genetically modified crops are a threat to Ecuador’s health, environment and biodiversity. Acosta, leader of a leftist coalition of envirnonmentalists, is a potential presidential candidate in 2013.

Correa says that many processed food products for sale in Ecuador contain GM agricultural products. “Science has determined that these products are safe and it’s time we join other educated people in recognizing this fact.”


ECUADOR REPORTS DROP IN UNEMPLOYMENT AND POVERTY RATES

Ecuador’s unemployment rate fell to 4.6% in the third quarter of 2012, down from 5.2% in the same period of 2011. During the same period, the poverty rate dropped from 16.3% compared to 18.2% in the third quarter of 2011, according to new government statistics.

The National Institute of Statistics also noted a drop in underemployment, 41.9% from 42.7%. "In the first quarter the economy grew 5.2%, which largely explains the reduction in the unemployment rate, which is the lowest since the statistic has been recorded,” said Fander Falconi, director of the Ministry of Planning and National Development.

The new poverty rate is the lowest among the Andean nations of Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia.

Falconi said that the sectors that have contributed most to employment were trades and fishing.


AEROGAL AIRLINE WILL CHANGE ITS NAME TO AVIANCA IN 2013

The Ecuadorian airline, AeroGal, will change its name and to Avianca in 2013, reflecting the identity of its parent company, AviancaTaca Holdings. The airline, which has service to Cuenca, was founded in the early 1990s with the main objective of flying tourists to and from the Galapagos Islands. It was purchased in 2010 by AviancaTaca Holdings. AeroGal operatates eight jet aircraft in Ecuador.


‘BANANA BARON’ FACES $282 MILLION TAX BILL; ORDERED TO STAY IN THE COUNTRY

Ecuador’s Grupo Noboa, the country’s largest banana exporter, has been billed $262 million in unpaid taxes by Ecuador’s Internal Revenue Service (SRI).

The SRI audited 156 of the group’s companies, including Exportadora Bananera Noboa SA, and said 30 were avoiding taxes. The company’s lawyers are seeking to block government attempts to auction property seized by the tax agency, according to a report by the newspaper El Universo.

Owner of Grupo Noboa, Alvaro Noboa, is under government orders not to leave the country until the tax issue is resolved. Naboa, one of Ecuador’s richest men, often referred to as the “Banana Baron,” is a candidate for the presidency.