No pesticides, no fertilizers and no genetically modified plants: just healthy, natural produce. This could soon be a reality on farms in Chile’s southern Region XI following a recent government proposal to convert the region into the country’s first exclusively organic zone.

The plan, drafted by the Agriculture Ministry Regional Office and the National Environmental Commission (Conama), aims to make the area’s agricultural, fishing and cattle sectors chemical free within the next few years.

Whereas to date the region’s extreme geographical isolation meant residents struggled to transport pesticides and fertilizers to the area, the proposals could convert this barrier into a potential gold mine.

“The opportunities are endless,” Region XI Sen. Antonio Horvath said, noting that organic status would enable farmers to take advantage of the current decrease in meat sales by European producers, who have been forced to curb exports as a result of outbreaks of foot and mouth and ‘mad cow disease,’ known scientifically as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
By Steve Anderson, correspondent