dorset chiapas solidarity

September 30, 2013

The Fourth ‘Reform’ – Gustavo Esteva

Filed under: Corporations, Maize — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:12 pm


The Fourth ‘Reform’

Gustavo Esteva

La Jornada, 30th September, 2013

Maize-small-629x420The “reforms” are not what they purport to be. To hide their character and defeat those who resist, they have mounted propaganda campaigns rather than government actions. While public attention is caught up in the media game, the most serious and damaging of the alleged reforms is creeping forward: the food plunder, the liquidation of our corn and of the culture that allows us to continue to be who we are.

Education, the energy sector and public finances do not reform. They strip the teacher ranks of some of their rights and increase bureaucratic control of education in order to continue dismantling it. They strip the country of part of the oil revenue and of control over its energy resources in order to continue dismantling Pemex. The tax system is adjusted to raise revenues marginally without touching the structural problems of public finances. All this is, of course, at the service of a few.

The anti-peasant policy adopted by the government in the post-war period is arriving at an extreme end. It is the elites’ unshakeable conviction that the country cannot fully modernize while so many campesinos and indigenous remain in the rural areas. They have to be expelled. This foolish policy, which uses the foundation to build the roof, has caused immense damage. One of the most severe is the policy aimed at undermining Mexico’s Corn Culture in all its aspects.

The final blow is currently being prepared, even worse than the one in 1992, when Article 27 was amended to make ejido land [owned and worked communally] available for sale on the open market. The authorities are about to approve permits to grow GM corn on two and a half million hectares. We set aside here the intense debate about the intrinsic harm of this kind of corn. What matters most is the disaster that it will cause. These crops will contaminate at least 5 million in which only native corn adapted to different ecological niches through millennia of selection can thrive. By spreading transgenic corn in these fields, it would not be possible to grow [native] corn there. The transgenic corn will be produced by commercial agriculture and in suitable areas, but it does not have the qualities of native corn adapted to those niches.

By making it impossible to plant corn on these millions of acres, the small farmers would be forced to abandon them. So the reason for the manoeuvre is revealed. It could be to carry out more smoothly the land dispossession that has been tried through concessions [e.g., licenses to mining companies, wind farms, etc.] and that is facing growing resistance.

A few days ago in these pages, Silvia Ribeiro showed the importance of the peasants (La Jornada, 09/21/13). She pointed out that the industrial food chain controls 70 per cent of the land, water and agricultural inputs, but what they produce reaches only 30 per cent of the world population. The remaining 70 per cent is fed with what campesinos produce.

Victor Quintana, meanwhile, showed that current actions try to put corn cultivation under control of multinationals, Monsanto, in particular (La Jornada, 27/09/13). The company faces growing challenges in the United States from a citizen movement increasingly aware of what its operation means. Today, the “Monsanto Protection Act”, underhandedly introduced in March, will probably die in the [U.S.] Senate. Thus the company has intensified its activities in countries such as Mexico, where the authorities are obliging.

Ten years ago, the severity of the damage caused by official policy inspired the campaign Without corn there is no country [Sin maís no hay país] that persists today. It has helped to deepen awareness of the consequences of this policy for the country, which were clearly stated yesterday at celebrations of National Corn Day. Equally, it deepens awareness everywhere of the meaning of the threat posed by genetically modified plants. While the world gradually extends the ban on their use, the Mexican government is determined to promote it.

It makes sense, no doubt, to express radical rejection of provisions presented as “reforms” and that promise the opposite of what they actually cause. But it is not giving enough importance to the case of corn and peasant farmers. Ultimately, although it might be with great difficulty, we could live without oil and without education. But we cannot live without food. If they continue to destroy our ability to produce food, they would have irresponsibly created the worst dependency, that of the stomach, a real threat that is almost accomplished, against which it is essential to react.

Translation by Jane Brundage



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