dorset chiapas solidarity

November 6, 2015

Supreme Court Overturns Planting Permits Issued to Monsanto for GM Soya Beans

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:00 pm


Supreme Court Overturns Planting Permits Issued to Monsanto for GM Soya Beans

Field of soya in Yucatán

Field of soya in Yucatán


La Jornada: Jesús Aranda

Yesterday, the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) overturned permits issued to the transnational Monsanto by the General Department of Plant Health at the National Service for Food Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA) [under Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food, SAGARPA] for production of transgenic soya.

The Court ordered authorities to hold a “prior, free and informed” consultation with the indigenous communities of Yucatán and Campeche, before granting new authorization.

Without going into the issue of the negative impact of planting GM soybeans*, the justices ordered authorities to listen to the communities, as established by the Constitution and international treaties signed by Mexico, when a project may affect indigenous peoples.

Honey producers, led by Angélica María Ek Canché, filed petitions for amparo [legal protection, similar to injunction] against Monsanto and SENASICA on the grounds that the SAGARPA had violated their right, enshrined in the Article 2 of the Constitution, to be consulted.

In their petition, they asked the Supreme Court to order the federal authorities to stop the planting on 253,500 hectares in five areas located on the Yucatán Peninsula, in Chiapas and on the Huasteca Plain. The relevant permits were issued on May 11, 2012.

The indigenous peoples have the right to be consulted in cases where administrative acts, development programmes, projects or activities may affect their life and environment in a significant manner, the justices said. This right, they stressed, must be implemented when it is determined that the activity of the State might create a significant impact on communities.

They explained that the consultation procedures must be prior and must conform to indigenous traditions, languages ​​and culture through objective data that enable them to make informed choices in an atmosphere free of hostilities, as established by precedents laid down by the full Supreme Court and in International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169.

The Second Chamber concluded that the authorities violated the plaintiff’s right to be consulted, which invalidated the permits in municipalities of the states of Yucatán and Campeche in which the affected communities are located. That is, until the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples and the Intersecretarial Commission on the Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms have conducted a consultation.

Historic Decision

The Mexican Centre for Environmental Law considered this decision to be a historic achievement both for the Maya people and for building a multicultural rule of law in Mexico.

This decision and other earlier rulings “show the way to a change in the law and public policy of the Mexican state, where the right to consultation must be guaranteed in any legislative or administrative measure that might directly affect the peoples and communities.”

Hence, the consultation must be the mechanism that enables building bridges for dialogue in a culturally diverse society.  

Translated by Jane Brundage

*Proceso: “The Maya assert that this activity impacts the environment in the region; specifically, contaminating the water supply and causing deforestation; but above all, because the presence of GM soybean damages their main source of income: beekeeping [especially sales of organic honey to the European market, which has a ban on all products containing GMOs; bees feeding on pollen contaminated with GMOs produce honey that also shows traces of GMOs].”



November 4, 2015

Appellate Court Upholds Suspension of Planting Permits for GM Corn

Filed under: Maize — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:32 pm


Appellate Court Upholds Suspension of Planting Permits for GM Corn




La Jornada: Angélica Enciso L.

Because it could cause irreversible damage to corn’s centre of origin, located in Mexico, the federal government may not issue permits for planting genetically modified corn to the transnational corporations seeking to introduce their products into the country, while legal proceedings presented by citizens are settled.
A court ruled in favour of the appeal filed by the Corn Collective against the August 19 judicial decision — which had lifted the moratorium on cultivation of GM corn that has been in effect since 2013. With this ruling, the suspension of issuance of planting permits has been upheld, reported attorney René Sánchez Galindo.

Sánchez Galindo explained that Federal Magistrate Benjamin Soto Sánchez, head of the Second Unitary [Appellate] Court for Civil and Administrative Matters of the First Circuit, confirmed the provisional suspension such that the Secretariats of Environment and Agriculture may not authorize experimental, pilot or commercial planting to the transnationals Monsanto, Pioneer and Dow, among others.

The suspension against issuance of planting permits has been in effect since September 2013, when dozens of researchers and citizens filed a class action lawsuit in defence of native maize and against the cultivation of genetically modified organisms in the country. The lawsuit was accepted by a court which decided, as a precautionary measure, to suspend the process of issuing planting permits. At that time, the planting of GM corn was entering its commercial phase.

The Appeal

On August 19, Judge Francisco Peñaloza Heras, with the Twelfth District Court in Civil Matters, lifted the precautionary measure that prohibited planting of the grain. In response, the Corn Collective filed the appeal that is still not definitively resolved*, but the ruling by Judge Soto confirmed the suspension in the planting of transgenic corn, Sánchez Galindo explained.

Sánchez described the federal court’s argument: the law requires preserving evidence in a judicial proceeding while an appeal works its way through the legal system; given that once GM Corn is planted, the damage would be irreversible.  [MV Note: The risk is unacceptably high that wind-born pollen will contaminate native corns.]

The class action lawsuit against the planting of GM Corn was filed in July 2013. With the accompanying suspension, it has faced 100 legal challenges filed by the federal government and the transnational corporations, including 22 petitions for amparo that 17 federal courts have settled, including the First Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN). In all cases, the courts have decided to uphold the precautionary principle and prevent planting the modified seed.

Supreme Court Ruling on GM Soybean Expected Today

Bernardo Bátiz, adviser in the class action lawsuit on behalf of native corn and former Attorney General of the Federal District, said that the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court, which today will rule on the appeal filed by Yucatán beekeepers against the planting of GM Soybean, must consider that we are a mega-diverse country biologically, culturally and agriculturally.

In a statement released by the collective, the attorney argued that planting GM Corn, Soybean or any other GMO would have many negative effects, including that Mexican honey would no longer be organic.

*Excerpted from Aristegui Noticias:


Additionally, the Court scheduled a hearing on November 17 for those involved.

By telephone, Sánchez Galindo stated: “The Court also set November 17th as the date for the hearing of the appeal.  It is going to be settled there. First will be the hearing, then the Court will have to make its final ruling on the appeal and whether or not the suspension is upheld, but for now it is confirmed that planting is suspended by court order.”

Sanchéz Galindo pointed out that at the hearing, “citizens, scientists and all the defendants — the transnational companies, SAGARPA [Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food] and SEMARNAT [Secretariat for the Environment and Natural Resources]. We are all scheduled for the 17th.”

Sánchez Galindo further considered that there would not be a ruling the day of the hearing, but that the Court could take up to 3 months to hand down its decision. …

Translated by Jane Brundage



August 27, 2015

Court’s Decision to Lift Ban on Planting GM Corn Is an Attack on Native Corn – Agro-Ecology Supporters

Filed under: Maize — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:24 pm


Court’s Decision to Lift Ban on Planting GM Corn Is an Attack on Native Corn – Agro-Ecology Supporters


Angélica Enciso L.

La Jornada, 25th August, 2015

In a statement, members of the network of agro-ecology supporters in 11 Chiapas municipalities working with the Union of Scientists Committed to Society (UCCS) pointed out that the court decision to lift the preventative measure that for the last two years has halted the process of authorizing planting permits for GM corn is an attack on the capacity of campesinos to manage their native corn in their local territories and in the country.

[Further,] they warned that Monsanto, Pioneer and Dupont already own 95 percent of [Mexico’s] native seeds, including corn, listed in the National Catalogue of Plant Varieties.

In face of this, they said, seeking the preservation of native corn is not an “emotional” whim, public misinformation or “invalid” evidence as stated by: “Monsanto employees or the one in charge of Science in the Office of the President (Francisco Bolívar). For us corn is identity, knowledge, territory, culture, history, health and the possibility of food self-sufficiency.”

In a statement, they pointed out that in overturning the precautionary measure, Judge Francisco Peñaloza, presiding over the Twelfth District Court for Civil Matters of the First Circuit, left out arguments presented by the UCCS that expose the health risks associated with industrialized and GM food.

Although the judge lifted the injunction, planting of GM corn cannot take place because [as soon as Judge Peñaloza’s ruling was announced,] the Corn Collective that had filed the original class action lawsuit against GM corn in 2013, immediately filed an appeal, which still has to be resolved in court.

Network members added that there is great interest among the transnational corporations driving the planting of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Mexico, because Monsanto expects GMOs to represent between 75 and 80 percent of its sales.

They pointed out that the judge did not consider that it is not possible to control the GMOs affecting native corn. [The judge’s ruling] violates “the right of present and future generations to access native Mexican biodiversity. We declare that we know the way in which Monsanto and the transnationals grouped together in Agro-bio together with the Mexican government manipulate and weave their strategies of misinformation.”

They added that cultivation of GM corn “has nothing to do climate change or hunger or supposed humanitarian aid: what they want is to steal our corn.”

Translated by Jane Brundage



August 23, 2015

The Dirty War against the Peoples of Corn

Filed under: Indigenous, Maize — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:21 am


The Dirty War against the Peoples of Corn


Silvia Ribeiro*

La Jornada, 22nd August 2015

On August 19, 2015, Judge Francisco Peñaloza Heras, presiding over the Twelfth District Court for Civil Matters, cancelled the precautionary measure [injunction] suspending the planting of transgenic corn in Mexico. The injunction was issued two years ago in response to a class action lawsuit for the damages these grains cause to biodiversity and health. However, the suspension remains in force, since the judge’s decision was immediately appealed by Collectivas AC, the legal representatives of the group of 53 people and 20 organizations that filed the class action suit in 2013.

The way Judge Peñaloza made the decision—ignoring arguments made by the plaintiffs and independent scientists, but basing it on the sayings of Monsanto and other companies—is another step in the dirty war against campesino corn and the peoples of the corn.

In sync with the judge’s decision, the transnationals of genetically modified organisms unleashed a barrage of comments to the press assuring that planting was permitted. As René Sánchez Galindo, a lawyer for the plaintiff group, reported: “Monsanto launched a new campaign of lies, since it is false that the planting of GM corn was permitted.”

Monsanto’s lies are not limited to legal aspects of the lawsuit. They devote significant time and resources to falsifying data in order to hide what’s really happening with GMOs in countries where planting is massive, like the United States, the country where Monsanto is headquartered.

Based on almost two decades of official statistics (not specific studies funded by enterprises that take partial data) in the country, the reality shows that GMOs are more expensive than existing hybrids, that GMO crop yields are lower on average, and that GMOs have resulted in an exponential increase in the use of pesticides, with devastating effects on soil, water, and the emergence of more than 20 glyphosate-resistant “superweeds”.

The industry claims that corn engineered with Bt toxin [Bacillus thuringiensis] decreased the use of pesticides, but fails to explain either that pests have been becoming resistant to Bt or that after an initial decline, pesticide use has increased every year. Therefore, companies are abandoning the sale of Bt corn seeds in order to sell GM corn seeds with stacked traits; that is, with Bt, tolerant to one or more highly toxic herbicides such as glyphosate, glufosinate, dicamba and even 2.4-d, thereby dramatically increasing the use of toxins.

Companies also claim that GM corn can “coexist” with native corn. But many scientific studies and statistics in many countries demonstrate the opposite: where GM crops are cultivated, there will always be contamination, whether by pollen carried on the wind or by insects (at much greater distances than those “anticipated” by the laws) or by the activities of transporting, storing or selling in retail outlets where GM products are not segregated from other seeds.

Many studies conducted in Mexico, including those carried out by Semarnat [Secretariat for the Environment and Natural Resources] itself, show hundreds of cases of GM contamination of native corn—even when planting GM corn is illegal. Legalizing the planting would brutally increase the contamination that directly threatens biodiversity and Mexico’s most important agricultural genetic heritage, bequeathed by the millions of campesino and indigenous peoples who created it and continue to maintain it.

In the United States, contamination from GMOs is pervasive. Monsanto made it a business: suing victims of genetic contamination for using their patented genes, which has yielded the company hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments or out of court settlements. Monsanto recently declared that it is not going to sue farmers in Mexico. It would be absurd to believe it. Of course they will, when they have the right conditions.

Since 2004, Monsanto has already published notices in newspapers in Chiapas warning that anyone engaged in the “illegal” use of their patented genes in “importing, planting, cultivating, selling or exporting” could suffer imprisonment and incur major fines. They also warned that anyone who is “familiar with any irregular situation” must contact Monsanto in order to avoid being accused of complicity. If someone didn’t follow through because he had no legal framework for doing so, one fears that now they [Monsanto] are exerting pressure to correct the situation.

The transnationals lie when they claim that GMOs are harmless to health. For starters, GM crops have a level of glyphosate—the herbicide declared carcinogenic by the World Health Organisation in March 2015—up to 200 times higher [than native corn]. Almost every month, new articles are published with evidence of damage to health or the environment from GMOs.

For example, on July 14, 2015, the peer-reviewed journal Agricultural Sciences published Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai’s research, which shows that GM soybean stores formaldehyde, a carcinogen, with a drastic decrease of glutathione, an antioxidant essential for cellular detoxification. The study analysed 6,497 experiments from 184 scientific institutions in 23 countries. The study lays bare the invalidity of the principle of “substantial equivalence” applied to assess GMOs—falsely claiming that [GMOs] are “equivalent” to conventional organisms. There is little knowledge of how GMOs affect corn biology and what impact GMOs have on biodiversity and the health of Mexico’s populace, who consume more corn than the people in any other country.

The war intensifies, but so does the resistance, like the “popular moratorium” against allowing GMOs in our fields and tables. And that’s not going to end.

*Silvia Ribeiro is Latin America Director for ETC (Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration), which is dedicated to the conservation and sustainable advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human rights. Ribeiro is based in Mexico.

Translated by Jane Brundage



August 21, 2015

Court Lifts Injunction Against Planting GM Corn, Citizen Group Files Appea

Filed under: Maize — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:06 pm


Court Lifts Injunction Against Planting GM Corn, Citizen Group Files Appeal


Mathieu Tourliere

Proceso, 20th August 2015
Mexico City – The Twelfth District Court on Civil Matters for the First Circuit today cancelled the precautionary measure [injunction] that has prevented transnational businesses, including Monsanto and Syngenta, from planting GM corn in Mexico.

René Sánchez Galindo, the group’s attorney, confirmed to Proceso that upon learning of the decision, the group of citizen members of the Demanda Colectiva [Class Action] AC, which brought the [original] class action lawsuit that blocked the sowing of GMOs in the country, filed an appeal. Sánchez Galindo pointed out that the issuance of permits remains blocked until the [appellate] court confirms or rejects the lower court’s decision to “knock down” the precautionary measure.

In September of 2013, the Twelfth District Court on Civil Matters for the Federal District had considered that by allowing the authorization of planting permits for GM corn, the risk would exist of endangering dozens of native species, due to the fact that Mexico is considered corn’s place of origin. For that reason, the judge implemented the precautionary measure that froze planting permits for the duration of the judicial procedure by which the Demanda Collectiva sought a judicial ruling on the legality of sowing GM corn.

Since the precautionary measure was issued, the Demanda Colectiva has successfully defended 93 legal challenges and 22 amparo [petitions for protection, similar to injunction] proceedings initiated by both the transnational corporations and federal agencies.

Sánchez Galindo explained that in determining that the injunction be lifted, Judge Francisco Peñaloza Heras considered that there are no elements such that the illegal presence of GMOs might exist in native corn. This [conclusion] was based solely on an assessment by the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection, despite independent and official studies from the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change that cite 89 cases of the presence of GM corn in native crops.

In a bulletin issued in the evening, the colectivo deplored that “the court decision failed to rule on all our arguments and evidence”; including that once released into the environment, GMO’s become “uncontrollable” both through pollination, but especially by the campesinos’ traditional system of exchanging seeds. Both circumstances threaten corn’s biodiversity in the country.

“On appeal,” the activists put forward in the bulletin, those arguments “could be heard”, and they trusted that “they will get a favourable ruling”.

Transnationals Applaud Court’s Decision

AgroBIO, the association that brings together businesses and sectors interested in planting GMOs in Mexico, affirmed that as a result of the judge’s decision announced yesterday, the Secretariats of Agriculture (Sagarpa) and the Environment (Semarnat) will begin to resume granting planting permits for GMOs. At the same time, it called on the government to take up again “immediately” the authorizations that were halted two years ago.
Ricardo Guimaraes, president both of AgroBio México’s Executive Board and of the multinational Dow AgroSciences, applauded that “the rule of law has favoured lifting this measure”, and he affirmed that GMO’s bring “economic and environmental benefits”.
With information from La Jornada.

Translated by Jane Brundage



May 29, 2013

Marchers Reject Monsanto, Back Food Sovereignty

Filed under: Corporations, Maize — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:20 am


Marchers Reject Monsanto, Back Food Sovereignty

According to organizers, hundreds of thousands of environmentalists and other activists participated in marches in 436 cities and 52 countries on May 25 to protest the Missouri-based biotech giant Monsanto Company, whose products include genetically modified (GM) seeds and the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup. The global March Against Monsanto generated events in countries including Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the US. (La Jornada (Mexico) 5/26/13, some from AFP, Prensa Latina)

A few dozen Argentines reportedly protested in front of Monsanto’s Buenos Aires offices on May 25, and protests were planned for Tucumán, Mendoza, Rosario, Misiones and Calafate. One of Argentina’s largest protests took place two days earlier, on May 23, when hundreds of residents marched in Córdoba City, the capital of the central province of Córdoba. Malvinas Argentinas, a working-class suburb located 14 km from the provincial capital, is the site Monsanto has picked for its largest facility in Latin America [see Update #1166], and the company is also building an experimental station in Río Cuarto in the same province. “Monsanto out of Malvinas Argentinas, Córdoba and Latin America” is a popular slogan in the Córdoba metropolitan area, where residents blame fumigation with agricultural chemicals for cancer, respiratory diseases and deformed foetuses. At the May 23 march the Malvinas Struggles Assembly called for a popular consultation on the construction of the plant. According to a recent poll by researchers from local universities, nine out of 10 Malvinas Argentinas residents want a vote and 58% of them oppose the construction.

Most of Argentina’s soy is transgenic, and soy is now Argentina’s biggest crop, taking up nearly 20 million hectares, 59% of the country’s farmland. The centre-left government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is pushing to expand soy production, while Congress is working on a new Seed Law, one so favourable to the GM industry that critics are calling it the Monsanto Law. (El Mundo (Spain) 5/25/13)

Activists also held protests against Monsanto in Montevideo, Uruguay, and Santiago and other cities in Chile. (LJ 5/26/13, some from AFP and PL; Diario de Mendoza (Argentina) 5/26/13 from Russia Today (RT))

In Mexico activists marked May 25 with protests in 20 of the country’s 32 states. The focus was on recent requests from Monsanto and other biotech firms for permission to expand the commercial planting of GM corn [see Update #1177]; environmentalists and campesinos fear that the massive sowing will contaminate the 59 native corn strains, threatening both biodiversity and Mexico’s ability to produce its own food. In the Federal District (DF, Mexico City), organizations like Vía Orgánica (“Organic Way”) and the Without Corn There Is No Country campaign sponsored a march from the Bellas Artes Palace to the Monument to the Revolution; they also organized a “Carnival of Corn,” with pictures, music and theatrical performances that attracted hundreds of visitors. (LJ 5/26/13)

Activists in the southeastern state of Chiapas held a similar festival in the plaza in front of the cathedral in San Cristóbal de las Casas. The organizers called for Chiapas municipalities to be declared GM-free zones; they also expressed their concerns about Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto’s “National Crusade Against Hunger,” which they said was oriented toward the distribution of food from industrialized farming rather than from campesino production.

In the western state of Nayarit campesinos from Santiago Ixcuintla, Sauta, Villa Hidalgo and La Presa demanded the removal of Monsanto, which they said had taken over some 1,800 hectares of their lands since 2010 and was irrigating the crops with water from the Santiago River. In Jalisco some eight groups, including the Honda de México Workers Union, demonstrated in a plaza in the state capital, Guadalajara. GM corn is a death sentence which would leave Mexican producers at the mercy of giant multinationals, said Jesús Quiroz Pérez, a campesino from the community of Ixcatán in Zapopan municipality. In Morelia, the capital of the southwestern state of Michoacán, the protest was led by some 500 members and supporters of the #YoSoy132 (“I’m number 132”) student movement [see Update #1130]. (LJ 5/26/13)

Hundreds of Puerto Ricans marched in San Juan’s Santurce neighbourhood on May 25 with the slogan “Nothing is holy [santo] about Monsanto.” Protesters noted that Monsanto and Dow Chemical were the main producers of the defoliant Agent Orange, which was tested in Puerto Rico during the 1960s before being used by the US military in Vietnam. The protest’s main speaker, attorney Salvador Tió, called for support for a law proposed by pro-independence senator María de Lourdes Santiago to require labels identifying GM products. Tió also demanded that Monsanto be required to comply with a law limiting individual farms to 500 acres. According to the Investigative Journalism Centre (CPI), the Puerto Rican government’s Land Authority is negotiating with Monsanto to renew contracts for land in the Juana Díaz plains totalling 768 acres, in violation of the law. Guillermo Somoza Colombani, justice secretary in the 2009-2013 administration of former governor Luis Fortuño, supported Monsanto’s claim that the law didn’t apply because the firm is registered as a biotech company, not an agricultural company. Current agriculture secretary Myrna Comas has said that the administration of Gov. Alejandro García Padilla will review all the contracts signed by previous governments. (Prensa Latina 5/25/13)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Issue #1178, May 26, 2013




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