dorset chiapas solidarity

January 26, 2015

No More Permits for Planting GM Corn

Filed under: Maize — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:05 pm


No More Permits for Planting GM Corn


Antonio Turrent Fernández*

La Jornada, 22nd January, 2015

Judge Guillermo Campos Osorio, head of the Federal District Court 12 in Civil Matters based in the Federal District ordered Mexico’s Executive Branch to suspend any new permits, effective September 17, 2013, for growing genetically modified maize in open fields in Mexico while the collective demand for action for the human right to the biodiversity of native corn, brought by 53 citizens and 20 rural and urban organizations (Miguel Concha, La Jornada, 3/22/14) is being settled.

This court order was issued before the ruling by Judge Jaime Manuel Marroquín Zaleta, head of the Second Unitary Court in Civil and Administrative Matters of the First Circuit, who ordered that the demand might continue its legal course. Subsequently, Marroquín reiterated that the suspension of planting genetically modified organisms must remain in place due to the risks of irreversible damage to biodiversity.

For the last 14 months, the Executive Branch has had to obey the suspension. The nature of the collective demand for action is “diffuse”, since it defends the right of all Mexicans, present and future. Moreover, its objective is “declarative”, because it does not seek reparation for damages, but rather a permanent ban on the open field planting of transgenic corn in the national territory.

Why do the plaintiffs argue that the biodiversity of native corn is a human right of Mexicans? For at least five reasons: First, because without native corns no one could produce the 600 dishes of our multicultural cuisine based on native corn, with its organoleptic characteristics (sense-based, i.e., texture, taste, smell and colour) that we Mexicans demand. There are more than 300 kinds of tamales, tlayudas, totopos oaxaqueños, totopoxtles from the Gulf, tlacoyos, Pepitilla tortilla corn, Chalqueño corn, pozole, elotes de cacahuacintle, etc., and drinks—pozol, tascalate, tejate, tejuino—, atoles such as tart Ixtenco, and so on. What can certainly be prepared with non-native corns, including imported ones, is the low quality industrial tortilla that we urban Mexicans currently suffer.

The second reason: 53 percent of the calorific intake of the national diet and 39 percent of the protein comes from the direct consumption of corn. We know how to prepare corn as food and how to manage it to avoid contamination with mycotoxins, which are carcinogenic. What we would not know is how to continue feeding ourselves in a healthy way if our corn were genetically contaminated by GMOs since, as recent studies suggest, its consumption by mammals in experiments is associated with damage to the health of a “chronic subclinical” type.

The third reason: More than half of the 8 million hectares planted each year with corn in Mexico are low quality, even marginal, agricultural land being taken advantage of by millions of campesino families. These lands and the native corn provide both their source of employment and food. National and international ‘improved’, modern varieties, including transgenic corns that they aim to sell us, do not thrive in these conditions.


The fourth reason: native corns and their teosintle ancestor, both widely distributed throughout the country, are the only tangible source of genetic adaptation to the challenges that climate change will bring to food security. The transgenic technology that they sell us is obsolete, unpredictable, carries risks and, like the genie in the bottle, it is impossible to return it once it has been let out. The collective demand for action and a handful of incorruptible judges who bring honour to the Judiciary are all that prevent the transnational corporate interests, the Mexican government and collaborationist Mexican scientists from removing the cap from the bottle.

The fifth reason: the nation would irreversibly lose the technological sovereignty over its main staple, while the current government, through incompetence or neglect, would contribute to the disappearance of any social, private or public offering of communal corn seed.

There is a small group of lawyers (Collective AC)—powerful in principles, in intellectual resources, and incorruptible—which is steering the rudder and engine of the litigation strategy for the collective demand lawsuit. Titans of legal technique, such as Attorney Bernardo Bátiz**, and of human rights, including Father Miguel Concha***, are also collaborating. The Union of Scientists Committed to Society AC has provided the required scientific support. But it is a confrontation between David and several Goliaths.

What is much needed now is committed reinforcement by Mexican civil society in order to defend this strategic resource of the nation!

Translated by Jane Brundage
*Antonio Turrent Fernández, Agronomist, is current president of Mexico’s Union of Scientists Committed to Society.







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