Mexican Government Urged to Ban GM Maize to Protect Environment

Mexican Government Urged to Ban GM Maize to Protect Environment

More than 60 varieties of non-GMO corn are in danger if Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, and DuPont have their way in Mexico.

Maize is the main food source for not only much of Central and South America, but also the entire planet. If it is left up to biotech, corn varieties that have taken 7000 years to develop in Mexico will be corrupted by GMO seed. The Mexican Chapter of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal is calling for the Mexican government to ban all GM maize in the country in order to save a crop that feeds millions.

Pat Mooney, Executive Director of ETC Group, said:

“The tribunal has made a clear decision. Unless the Mexican government responds decisively, the world could lose the genetic diversity of one of its most important crops; if Mexico doesn’t act then the United Nations should.”

Mexican grown maize is one of the three principal crops that currently feeds the world. More than 1000 organizations that are part of the Tribunal have gathered evidence that GMO maize would destroy this precious food commodity.

The Tribunal is urging the Mexican government to:

. . .“adopt all necessary measures to ensure the conservation of peasant maize as the main food source and as a vital element of the social structure and cohesion.”

The Tribunal also points out that genetic contamination of this crop center would “destroy the livelihood of the people who created food for all of mankind.”

In the indictment that led to the Tribunal’s ruling, activist groups spoke of GM crops as part of a “war” against food sovereignty. The indictment reads:

The ultimate weapons against independent food production are genetically modified crops and the corporations that control them – genetic control, tied to legal frameworks of intellectual property.” 

The Tribunal also realizes that this is not just a problem in Mexico. Members of the Tribunal ask that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization defend native and peasant maize varieties against genetic pollution and assume responsibility for preventing the impacts of decisions which are made concerning GMOs with obvious global implications.

The ruling recommends that the UN Convention on Biodiversity launch special research – with participation from peasants and indigenous peoples – on how to safeguard the genetic centre of origin of food crops and the rights of peasant and indigenous peoples who created them.

Experts Warn of GMO Dangers

In essence, the fight to oust GM maize from Mexico is also an international social movement. It’s outcomes affect not only local peoples, but threatens the foundations of world food security. The people of Mexico as well as officials believe that GM crops will devastate the environment.

The Tribunal’s ruling noted the probable outcomes if GM maize is allowed to be grown in Mexico:

  • Genetic contamination and erosion of native and peasant varieties and their genetic erosion
  • Takeover of maize production by giant multinational corporations
  • A direct attack on the culture and livelihoods of the majority of Mexicans
  • Pesticides used with transgenic crops endangers bees, the environment, and livelihoods of Mayan peasants

Indigenous peoples of Mexico are also concerned about the disappearance of knowledge, languages, practices, and biodiversity associated with the native maize varieties.

GMOs Foolishly Approved, Lawsuits Sparked

The Mexican government has foolishly allowed GM crops that have led to transgenic contamination in recent years, authorizing over 200 GM experiments and pilot projects involving GM maize between 2009 and 2012.

Monsanto, and a subsidiary of DuPont, PHI as well as Dow AgroScience have requested authorization to grow GM maize on a commercial scale in Mexico. A ‘people’s moratorium’ has temporarily blocked the biotech companies’ efforts.

In October, 2013, a class action suit, brought by 53 individuals and 20 organizations and represented by Semillas de Vida and Colectivas AC, consolidated the ban.

At least for now, no transgenic corn is allowed to be planted as long as the legal challenge is under review.

There are currently 91 applications to plant GM maize in Mexico, all submitted by Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, and Dupont, with an attempt to take over 90% of the Mexican Maize seed market.

These companies have also submitted 89 different legal challenges to the judge who upheld the temporary ban in court, Jaime Manuel Marroquin.

Oddly, agencies meant to protect the Mexican food supply have submitted claims against the ban on GM maize planting. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment defend the interest of these companies, not the widespread concerns of the people of Mexico.

Monsanto has even demanded that the judge who made the GM maize ban ruling be removed from his seat.

“The government is using state power against the public interest,” said Silvia Ribeiro of ETC Group in Mexico. “This is the main accusation that social organizations have leveled against the Mexican government; this assault has been ongoing since approvals of GM maize planting began, and now their pace has increased.”

The people of Mexico, and the groups involved in the Tribunal have just cause to be concerned over GM maize.

  • What’s more, rats fed three different types of GM corn have been found to have physiological damage, including altered lymphocyte counts, one of the main causes of cancer and other diseases.

All three Monsanto varieties Mon863, insecticide-producing Mon 810, and Roundup® herbicide-absorbing NK 603 have been approved for cultivation and sale in the US, Europe, and several other nations. The last time I checked, good old, heirloom, organic corn did none of these things to our health.

We must stop the Monsanto maize madness. It will destroy our food supply.