dorset chiapas solidarity

March 11, 2016

Transgenic Maize will not be sown in Mexico

Filed under: Maize — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:26 pm

 

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Transgenic Maize will not be sown in Mexico

 

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Scientists beat Monsanto in court; native maize varieties (pictured above) will be preserved

Source: http://gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/16783

On 8 March, a court headed by Judge Benjamín Soto Sánchez notified via an appeal sentence to the Mexican Agriculture Department (Sagarpa) that they are not allowed to grant release or cultivation permissions for transgenic maize until the collective trial promoted by scientists, specialists and farmers is definitively resolved.

This resolution revokes the one that last August had denied the permanent ban on cultivation for transgenic maize. But because of the immediate appeal brought by the Maize Collectivity (Colectividad del Maíz), the ban remained in place at all times.

“Today, we can claim that the precautionary banning measure is definitive until the collective trial or an appeal trial is resolved,” declared the native maize defenders in a press release.

Scientists and specialists signing and heading the collective complaint have no conflicts of interest, since they don’t depend on or have any relationship with transnational companies.

Among the plaintiff scientists are Antonio Turrent Fernández, agronomist; Víctor Manuel Toledo, in the socio-environmental area; Julio Glockner and Narciso Barrera Bassols, in the anthropology, history and culture areas; Raúl Hernández Garciadiego, in ethics and gastronomical heritage; Miguel Concha Malo, director of the Fray Vitoria Centre, in the Human Rights area, and Luciano Concheiro and Patricia Moguel in the food heritage area.

The transnational companies denounced since July 2013 are Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer-Dupont and Dow. The scientists also denounced Sagarpa and Semarnat.

Soto Sanchez’s sentence establishes that the collective trial showed the illicit presence of transgenes in native maize crops, so that we can claim that the violation of Mexican and international laws has been demonstrated. Because of this, the appeal sentence bans the granting of permissions for commercial cultivation of transgenic maize.

Double triumph of scientists against transgenic maize

The federal appeal court sentence granted another victory to this group of scientists, inasmuch as if experimental crops were sown, they would be subject to control and a monthly assessment by the federal judge and the scientists winning this legal battle.

Results from experimental cultivations, permissions for which were granted in 2009, have not been assessed at all; with this new ruling, there will be monthly assessments of the containment measures and their efficacy, giving a judge power to revoke permission for the experiments.

Furthermore, transgenic maize intended to be cultivated for research purposes and using glyphosate-based herbicides will be assessed by judges and the plaintiff scientists.

English translation: Observatorio OMG 
Source: La Jornada de Orientehttp://www.lajornadadeoriente.com.mx/2016/03/08/maiz-transgenico-no-sera-sembrado-cientificos-le-ganan-monsanto/

Source: http://gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/16783

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November 6, 2015

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

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

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

Field of soya in Yucatán

Field of soya in Yucatán

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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

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/11/05/sociedad/039n1soc?partner=rss

*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].”

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November 4, 2015

Appellate Court Upholds Suspension of Planting Permits for GM Corn

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

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Appellate Court Upholds Suspension of Planting Permits for GM Corn

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Corncobs

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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.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/11/04/sociedad/038n1soc?partner=rss

*Excerpted from Aristegui Noticias:

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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. …

http://aristeguinoticias.com/0311/mexico/sigue-suspendida-la-siembra-de-maiz-transgenico-en-el-pais

Translated by Jane Brundage

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October 31, 2015

GMO Ban Pending, Monsanto Hopes to Double Sales in Mexico

Filed under: Maize — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:01 pm

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GMO Ban Pending, Monsanto Hopes to Double Sales in Mexico

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A Mexican woman protests against genetically modified corn in Mexico City as part of a larger national movement against Monsanto. | Photo: Xinhua This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address: “http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/GMO-Ban-Pending-Monsanto-Hopes-to-Double-Sales-in-Mexico–20151028-0016.html”. If you intend to use it, please cite the source and provide a link to the original article. http://www.teleSURtv.net/english

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A pending court decision on whether to uphold a ban on GM corn will be crucial in determining the corporation’s fate in Mexico.

Monsanto wants to double its sales in Mexico over the next five years, but the agribusiness giant’s hopes may be dashed if the country decides to uphold a ban on genetically modified corn crops.

Monsanto’s announcement on Tuesday of its goals to increase business in Mexico by 2020 come as Mexican courts consider whether to allow GM corn in the country’s agricultural sector. Meanwhile, ecological, Indigenous, and farmers’ movements are pushing for a ban, continuing a longstanding resistance against genetically modified organisms and in defence of biodiversity in Mexico.

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A Mexican women carries cobs of different corn varieties during a protest in Mexico City. I Photo: AFP

A Mexican women carries cobs of different corn varieties during a protest in Mexico City. I Photo: AFP

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Although Mexico prohibited Monsanto and other biotechnology corporations from planting GM corn in the country in 2013, a Mexican court overturned the ban in August, opening the door for a possible surge in Monsanto’s business.

But with a final ruling still pending while appeals are heard, strong public opposition to GMOs could still push for a decision to uphold the ban. Mexican courts could soon release their decision, according to Reuters.

Mexico is considered the birthplace of domesticated maize, with the first crops planted more than 8,000 years ago by ancient Mayan and Olmec civilizations. There are dozens of maize varieties native to Mexico, whose protection from GMO takeover is considered critical to cultural, seed, and food sovereignty, according to land and environmental defenders.

Anti-GMO campaigns have also raised concerns about the impact of Monsanto’s products on human health. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization ruled that Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, glyphosate “probably” causes cancer.

The majority of Monsanto’s profits in Mexico, 70 percent, come from genetically engineered corn, which the company claims will increase local farmers’ yields. Opponents, however, argue that traditional agroecological farming methods and native seeds can boost small farmers’ harvests and protect biodiversity.

In fiscal year 2015, Monsanto reported $US400 million in sales in Mexico of a total $US15 billion global sales.

The movement against GMOs in Mexico is part of a larger mobilization of social organizations and researchers across Latin America that have also spoken out against Monsanto products in pursuit of wider ban of the biotechnology company in the region.

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/GMO-Ban-Pending-Monsanto-Hopes-to-Double-Sales-in-Mexico–20151028-0016.html

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October 8, 2015

Mexico Supreme Court Postpones Debate of 7 Injunctions Against Planting GM Soybeans

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:58 pm

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Mexico Supreme Court Postpones Debate of 7 Injunctions Against Planting GM Soybeans

   Beekeeper on Yucatán Peninsula Photo: Robin Canul


 
Beekeeper on Yucatán Peninsula
Photo: Robin Canul

Yesterday it had been planned that Justice Fernando Franco González would present his paper about the three amparos (241,2015, 270/2015 and 410/2015) filed by Maya authorities in Campeche, and that in the near future Justices Eduardo Medina Mora and Margarita Luna Ramos would rule on four amparo petitions (498/2015, 499/2015, 500/2015 and 198/2015), but it was reported that all seven petitions will be heard on October 28 by members of the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court.La Jornada, 8th October 2015Matilde Pérez U.
The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) agreed that on October 28 it will discuss the package of seven amparos filed by beekeepers of Yucatán and Campeche against the planting of genetically modified [GM] soybeans, reported Jorge Fernández, attorney for the producers [apiarists].

In 2012, the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) awarded, without taking the communities into account, a planting permit to Monsanto for growing GM soybeans on 253,000 hectares of the Yucatán Peninsula, on the plain of the Huasteca [Veracruz Coast on Gulf of Mexico] and Chiapas.
Rémy Vandame, researcher at the College of the Southern Frontier, warned that growing GM soybeans puts the bees at risk from the pesticides and agrichemicals used in cultivating the monoculture. He stressed: “Pests in these crops are controlled and fought with substances that are toxic to bees. This is a debate that has been going on for three decades.”

Vandame added: “Approval of the planting of GM soybeans on the Yucatán Peninsula doesn’t just put 40 percent of the country’s honey production at risk and threaten the 15,000 families engaged in this activity, but it also endangers the Maya jungle and the region’s cultural and biological diversity.”

Vandame explained said that in Argentina, beekeepers on the Pampa had to move to the Andes when diversity of flora on which the bees feed was lost due to the GM soybean monoculture: “In terms of beekeeping, GM soybean crops are desert areas. The flowering time is so short—one or two weeks—that it represents nothing in the way of honey production.”

The researcher explained that while the law in the European Union established that honey may contain 0.9 percent traces of GMO, the pollen in it is barely 0.1 percent so it will never reach the limit of the legal restriction. However, export contracts signed by Mexican beekeepers establish that there will be no traces of GMO in their product. All European buyers want Mexican honey free of GMOs, that is, they have zero tolerance for GMOs.

Two years ago, Global Forest Watch stated that over 80,000 hectares of forest cover were lost on the Yucatán Peninsula, which is equal to almost half of what was destroyed in the country. In Campeche alone, 38,000 hectares of virgin jungle were deforested due to the expansion of the agricultural frontier for planting [GM] soybeans.

The lowering of water levels in surface water bodies and numerous illegal drilling of wells are visible in the deforested areas and surrounding areas, added Ma Collective without GMOs.

Translation by Jane Brundage

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/10/08/sociedad/031n1soc

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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

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

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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

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/08/25/sociedad/037n1soc?partner=rss

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August 23, 2015

The Dirty War against the Peoples of Corn

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

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The Dirty War against the Peoples of Corn

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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

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/08/22/opinion/025a1eco?partner=rss

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December 27, 2014

Time Is Against Genetically Modified Corn

Filed under: Maize — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:51 pm

 

Time Is Against Genetically Modified Corn

Silvia Ribeira*

La Jornada, 27th December, 2014

 

B5GgXddCYAAwb95Another year is ending in which the struggles of the peoples of corn, in various ways, continue to impede the release of genetically modified [GM] corn in Mexico, its centre of origin. It is an issue of global importance and a breath of fresh air in the face of such disaster that the country is living through, with a State that massacres daughters and sons, young people, peasants, indigenous people.

In its final report delivered in November of 2014, the international jury of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (TPP) called for banning GM corn in Mexico, in order to contain the contamination and violation of the rights of the peoples who created the corn. It appealed to several UN agencies, such as the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] and the Convention on Biological Diversity, to fulfil their global obligation to protect the centre of origin of maize [corn] (www.tppmexico.org/). It supported the legal measure that suspended the planting of GM corn in response to the collective action filed by 53 individuals and 20 organizations, and that still stands, despite the concerted attack by multinationals and the government.

Corn is one of the three main staple food grains across the planet, and it is the greatest agricultural feat that humanity has inherited. The foods we eat were not originally as we know them today. All the seeds cultivated in the world are the result of collective care, of the mutual breeding that indigenous and peasant communities have been doing for centuries, converting the seeds into the heritage of the peoples in the service of humanity, as reviewed in La Via Campesina. From the teocintle, which is almost a grass, Mesoamerican communities created a plant with ears that presents an enormous variety of colours, sizes, flavours, properties, and that grows from the hotlands at sea level up into the cold mountains at altitudes of 3,000 meters [9,800 feet]. When the conquistadores arrived, corn was grown from Canada to Tierra del Fuego. Corn is a humanized plant: it neither exists nor multiplies without the action of human beings. But its pollen is spread on the wind and by insects and birds. Corn marries with other corn varieties, and those [hybrids] with still others, moving, brightening both themselves and us, coming back to grow again thanks to peasant hands that take in the corn, feed it and from it feed themselves and feed us.

dsc5121Genetically modified corns violate all this. They are hybrids developed in the laboratory, to which genes are introduced from species that would never interbreed in nature, only to serve the great, standardized industrial production, with heavy machinery, using great quantities of pesticides. They are not in order to increase production, since the crop yields are equal to or less than already existing corn hybrids, but like all the genetically modified organisms [GMOs], they are a tool for corporate control. These GMO’s and seeds are patented by a few transnational companies who are aiming for total control of farmers and seeds. Once in the [open] field, GM contamination is not only inevitable, but it has serious consequences for corn farmers, the environment and health, but it is business for these companies.

Monsanto, DuPont-Pioneer, Syngenta, Dow, have about 95 percent of the global market for GM seeds. In turn, Monsanto and DuPont (through its subsidiary PHI Mexico) control 95 percent of the market for hybrid corn seed in Mexico. These powerful companies cannot believe that they have still failed to legalize the cultivation of GM corn in Mexico, especially when the official trend has been to deliver the nation’s wealth to the higher transnational bidder. The government authorized hundreds of thousands of hectares of GM cotton and soybeans and since September 2012, it wanted to authorize the commercial planting of GM corn. It came up against widespread resistance from the peoples, social movements and organizations, environmentalists, intellectuals, artists, scientist critics, consumers, both nationally and internationally, that blocked it.

Injunctions filed by organizations of beekeepers on the Yucatán Peninsula stopped the legal planting of GM soybeans, which threatens to end beekeeping and the peasants who make their living from it. In the case of corn, the popular resistance has been ongoing for more than a decade, managing to postpone experimental plantings for years and paralyzing commercial planting. In October 2013, a protective injunction decreed by Judge Jaime Manuel Marroquín ordered the suspension of authorizations for experimental and commercial plantings, before a class action lawsuit legally represented by Collectives AC and Seeds of Life [Semillas de Vida].

Since then, these companies, together with SAGARPA [Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food] and SEMARNAT [Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources], have presented 90 appeals in various courts, trying to reverse the suspension. All have failed. This case of the State working with multinationals against the public interest and for the transfer of ownership of one of the country’s vital assets, is one of the examples that the TPP used to demonstrate the diversion of power systematically engaged in by the Mexican State.

Corn is forever woven into the life of the peoples, and there is no time for ending the resistance to the dispossession. As the TPP wrote in its ruling, picking up on the testimony by Luis Hernández Navarro about the situation in Mexico:

“The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, Mexico Chapter, is simultaneously witness and midwife to a new reality. They, up there, have the timepiece. You and us, down here, we have the time.”

 

*Silvia Ribeira 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

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/12/27/opinion/019a1eco

 

 

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July 23, 2014

Legal Setback for Monsanto

Filed under: Corporations — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:14 pm

 

Legal Setback for Monsanto

La Jornada: Editorial: srep04022-f3
Yesterday, a judge in the Yucatán District Court overturned a permit issued to the multinational company Monsanto that allowed the commercial planting of GM soybean in that state. According to the judicial body, such activity puts at risk the production of Mexican honey in states like Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatán.To put the event in context, it should be noted that the permit revoked by yesterday’s court order was issued by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food [SEGARPA] on June 6, 2012, counter to the express views of environmental institutions within the Mexican State itself (National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity; National Commission of Natural Protected Areas; National Institute of Ecology), and despite repudiation by hundreds of researchers articulated in the Union of Concerned Scientists Committed to Society.

According to opposing arguments, the necessary and sufficient conditions for ensuring coexistence of honey production and cultivation of Monsanto GM soybean do not exist in the country. To the scientific reasons are added economic ones: the aforementioned permit puts at severe risk the sale of honey produced in the identified states to the European market (where 85 percent of Mexican honey is exported), given that a decision issued in 2011 by the Court of Justice of the European Union prohibits the sale of honey containing pollen from GM crops.
Taken together, these elements might seem to lend particular significance to the judicial determination: This is a setback for the largest transnational producer of modified foods, whose presence has grown in our country in recent years; moreover, it constitutes an extremely valuable victory for the peasant and indigenous, environmental, scientific and civic organizations opposed to these crops for constituting a risk factor for the health and nutrition of both populations and for biodiversity.027n1est-1To the contrary, the fact remains that they [activist organizations] had to resort to a court of law to reverse a permit that obviously revealed an improper and irregular attitude by the country’s agricultural and food authorities. Indeed, counter to what is happening in Europe, where the majority of national governments take a cautious approach when faced with scientific evidence of the risks to health and biodiversity posed by genetically modified organisms, their Mexican counterparts have chosen to open the national agriculture to these crops. To top it off, they have done so while by-passing the guarantees of native communities–such as the right to be consulted regarding operations of individuals that affect their territories–and abandoning them to their fate in legal battles against the powerful multinationals.
Despite its importance, the judicial setback dealt to Monsanto on this occasion is clearly insufficient to reverse the damage caused by opening [the country to] the free production of genetically modified crops. In any event, it would be preferable that yesterday’s ruling might lead to a review by agricultural and food authorities of their current conduct; that is, in favor of the large transnationals of modified foods and against the country’s traditional farmers and food sovereignty.
If it is true that the eradication of hunger is a priority of the current federal government, then the starting point must be recognition of the relationship between this scourge [genetically modified crops] and the model of food policy that has been imposed on the entire population: a model based on the conversion of the right to food into the private business of a few companies.
Translated by Jane Brundage

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/07/23/index.php?section=opinion&article=002a1edi&partner=rss

 

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June 15, 2014

Women organised in the Highlands of Chiapas against Monsanto

Filed under: Maize, Women — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:30 pm

 

 

Women organised in the Highlands of Chiapas against Monsanto

 

monsanto-660x330

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. June 13. In response to the concerns of indigenous and campesino communities about the increasing use of greenhouses for planting large-scale monocultures in the region, specifically tomatoes, a meeting (Encuentro) was held: “Skoltayel Te Jmetik Ch´ulbalmilal” (Saving Our Mother Earth), organized by the Organised Women of the Highlands of Chiapas from the collectives in  la Grandeza, Aguacatenango, El Puerto and the Centre for Women’s Rights in Chiapas, to analyse the causes and consequences which greenhouses bring to our communities and families, and to our mother earth.

Those attending issued ​​the following denouncement and at the same time invited people to organize to “join our fight to defend the land and territory, to care for mother earth that gives us life, nourishes us and gives us a place to live.”
http://chiapasdenuncia.blogspot.mx/2014/06/mujeres-organizadas-de-los-altos-de.html

Translated and originally posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity 16/05/2014

http://www.pozol.org/?p=9530

 

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April 30, 2014

Fight against Monsanto Enters the Courtroom

Filed under: Maize — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:19 am

 

Fight against Monsanto Enters the Courtroom

Alfredo Acedo,  28th April, 2014

The fight against genetically modified corn in Mexico began in the communities, leaped to the streets, spread to the printed page and now is being carried on in the courtroom. It is an uneven dispute in which the federal government has sided with the transnational corporation and against the majority of Mexican farmers and consumers. But in the latest battle the public good gained ground, under a strategy that combines effective mobilization with informational campaigns and legal cases.

The debate over GM corn isn’t an argument between fanatical followers and stubborn opponents, but rather a war of interests in which one side seeking maximum profits plays outside the rules. They hide information, smear researchers, activists and judges, take action to discredit serious studies and resort to misinformation. The other side, comprised of peasant farmers and consumers, has taken up the task of defending traditional knowledge, campesino autonomy, access to decent work and sustainable agriculture.

Recently, the Union of Concerned Scientists has been the most active in the defence of Mexican corn, although the GM invasion isn’t a scientific problem in essence. According to researcher Elena Álvarez-Buylla there is no longer a scientific debate given “the obsolescence of the gene paradigm” that posits that a gene behaves the same in a foreign organism as it does in its original organism. This has been promoted by genetic engineering at the service of the transnational corporations. It is a model that has failed to hold up although the corporations continue to use the label of “science” to justify it.

Álvarez-Buylla and Alma Piñeyro edited a recent book on the dangers to Mexican corn from genetically modified organisms. The book brings together nearly 50 specialists in more than 500 pages. It concludes that if Mexico authorizes the commercial cultivation of Monsanto’s GM corn genetic alterations will accumulate in native maize varieties, eroding the farm economy with negative effects on biodiversity and human health. In the preface, Jose Sarukhan, former dean of the national university (UNAM) and director of the National Commission for the Understanding and Use of Biodiversity, cites a landmark study by his commission in 2011 to state that “practically all national land” is a centre of origin and genetic diversity of corn, with some 60 native landraces and thousands of varieties across the country.

The federal government has issued more than 169 permits issued since 2009 for experimental cultivation in northern Mexico that now threaten the genetic diversity of native corn and teocintle (corn’s ancestor). In 2011, the government authorized the first permits for GM corn cultivation in the pilot phase. The transnational corporations have increased lobbying pressure in support of commercial planting since 2012. If commercial planting is authorized it would be impossible to stop genetic contamination in Mexico. The new book discusses the consequences on the sub-cellular level and the impact on environmental, human and economic levels. It also presents ethical, cultural and political considerations.

The Union of Concerned Scientists offers free Internet distribution of a book entitled “GM Corn in Mexico” to publicize the agro-genetic, economic and cultural importance of Mexico’s basic grain and the disastrous consequences of its genetic contamination.

The book was printed jointly by the Institute of Graphic Arts in Oaxaca and a foundation for the defense of cultural heritage headed by the painter, Francisco Toledo. Toledo recently launched a campaign for 1 million signatures against GM corn to persuade the federal government to revoke permits to plant GM corn. Besides the environmental risks, the patents on the seed lead to monopolization of production of the staple crop.

In a letter to President Enrique Peña Nieto, Toledo refers to a previous letter sent by scientist David Schubert in October in which the renowned researcher argues that there is no need to expose the country to environmental risks whose consequences would be irreversible. Schubert also identifies health hazards, higher costs, and the social and political dependency that GM corn would bring.

On a recent visit to Mexico, award-winning scientist and activist Vandana Shiva encouraged citizens to keep fighting to ban genetically modified crops. She was accompanied by attorney René Sanchez Galindo, who filed a class action suit that won a suspension of permits for GM corn in October. The class action suit, already in  effect and supported by 52 scientists and activists and 22 organizations, is still making its way through the courts after the Unified Tribunal threw out appeals from the Mexican ministries of the Environment and Agriculture and several private companies. There are 59 injunctions filed against the suspension, 10 by the government and the rest by Monsanto and other corporations in five different courts —two with federal judges, two in appeals court and one in a collegiate tribunal.

It will be a long process, Sanchez Galindo declared in an interview, but he remains optimistic because the corporations are losing the battle for public opinion. However, he has no illusions regarding the judiciary branch. Recently Mayan communities and organizations won a court battle to suspend cultivation of GM soybeans in the Yucatan Peninsula, a sign that Monsanto’s legal department is not invincible. But Monsanto has stooped to new lows, launching an offensive against Judge Jaime Manuel Marroquín who ruled to suspend the permits for GM corn cultivation by filing a motion to remove him from the bench for bias and ethics violations. The pressure tactics and attacks on judges are typical of the transnational giant’s legal strategy in these cases.

Sanchez Galindo revealed that opponents of GM corn in Mexico have also filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission, alleging that the permits violate constitutional guarantees to a healthy environment, health and food.

Meanwhile, in every region of the country indigenous and peasant communities continue to resist the GM corn invasion and sow their native seed.

http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/11926

 

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October 26, 2013

Raul Zibechi: Is it possible to defeat Monsanto?

Filed under: Corporations, Maize — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:02 pm

IS IT POSSIBLE TO DEFEAT MONSANTO?

 By: Raúl Zibechi

Diverse movements and multiple actions, both programmed and spontaneous, through denunciations, and all types of mobilizations that converge against a corporation that represents a serious danger to the health of humanity are besieging one of the world’s largest multinationals. Establishing the variety of existing initiatives and learning about them can be a way of comprehending a new kind of cross-border movement, capable of articulating activists all over the world in concrete activities.

The encampment at the gates of the seed plant that Monsanto is building in Malvinas Argentinas, 14 kilometres from Córdoba, is one of the best examples of the mobilization underway. The multinational plans to install 240 silos of genetically modified corn seeds for the purpose of arriving at 3.5 million hectares planted. The plant will use millions of liters of agro-chemicals for the care of the seeds and a part of the effluents “will be released into the water and soil, provoking grave harm,” as Medardo Ávila Vázquez of the Network of Doctors of Fumigated Peoples maintains.

The movement against Monsanto won victories in Ituzaingó, a Córdoba barrio near the place where they intend to install the corn seed plant. The Mothers of Ituzaingó (movement) was born there ten years ago. The movement discovered that 80 percent of the children in the barrio have agro-chemicals in their blood and that it is one of the causes of the deaths and deformities in their families. In 2012, for the first time they won a lawsuit against a producer and a fumigator, (who were) condemned to three years of conditional incarceration without going to prison.

The encampment at Malvinas Argentinas is now one month old, maintained by the Struggle for Life Malvinas Neighbours Assembly. They achieved winning the support of a good part of the population: according to official polls, 87 percent of population want a popular consultation and 58 percent reject the multinational’s installation, but 73 percent are afraid to express an opinion against Monsanto for fear of being harmed (Página 12, 09/19/13).

The campers resisted an attempt to evict them from the construction union (UOCRA) that is adhered to the CGT, and harassment from police and provincial authorities, although they have the support of the mayor, the unions and the social organizations. They received support from Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, a recipient of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize, and from Nora Cortiñas, of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. They were able to paralyze the plant’s construction by impeding the entry of trucks.

The siege of Monsanto also arrived in the small tourist town of Pucón in southern Chile, on Villarrica Lake, where 90 of the transnational’s executives, coming from the United States, Argentina, Brazil and Chile arrived at a luxury hotel to hold a convention. Environmental groups, cooperatives and Mapuche collectives from Villarrica and Pucón dedicated these days to “exposing” the presence of Monsanto in the country (El Clarín, 10/13/13).

Those are just two of the many actions that are happening in the whole Latin American region. To my way of looking at it, the varied mobilizations in more than 40 countries permit us to draw some conclusions, from the point of view of anti-systemic activism:

In the first place, the mass actions in which tens of thousands participate are important, because they permit demonstrating to the general population that the opposition to corporations like Monsanto, and therefore to genetically modified foods, is not a question of minority criticism. In this sense, worldwide days, like that of October 12, are indispensible.

Raging Grannies in march against Monsanto in San Jose

Raging Grannies March Against Monsanto in San Jose

The mobilizations of small groups, dozens or hundreds of people, like the ones that happen in Pucón and in Malvinas Argentinas, as well as in various mining undertakings in the Andean Cordillera, are as necessary as the big demonstrations. On the one hand, it is a way to be permanently present in the media. Above all, it is the best path for forging militants, besieging the multinationals and publicizing criticisms of all their business initiatives.

It is in the small groups where ingenuity usually flourishes and within their breasts the new forms of being able to innovate with political culture and protest methods are born. There is where community ties and strong ties between people can be born, which are so necessary for deepening the struggle. After one month of camping in Malvinas Argentinas, the demonstrators “began to put up adobe walls; they constructed a clay oven and started an organic vegetable garden by the side of the route” (Día a Día de Córdoba, Octubre 13, 2013).

In the third place, it is fundamental to support the denunciations with scientific arguments and, if possible, to involve authorities in the matter. The case of the Argentine biologist Raúl Montenegro, Alternative Nobel Prize in 2004 (Right Livelihood Award), who committed himself to the cause against Monsanto and to the Mothers of Ituzaingó, shows that the commitment of scientists is as necessary as it is possible.

The fourth question is the importance of the opinions of the common people, distributing their beliefs and feelings about genetically modified foods (or any initiative of the extractive model). The subjectivity of the people is accustomed to showing traits that do not contemplate the most rigorous academic studies, but their opinions are just as important.

Finally, I believe that it’s necessary to place within view not only one multinational like Monsanto, one of the worst of the many that operate in the world. In reality, this is just the most visible part of a model of accumulation and development that we call extractivism, which turns around the expropriation of the commons and the conversion of nature into merchandise. In this sense, it is important to emphasize what there is in common between the transgenic monocrops, mining and real estate speculation. The latter (real estate speculation) is the mode that extractivism assumes in the cities. If we defeat Monsanto, we can conquer the other multinationals.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Friday, October 18, 2013

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/10/18/opinion/024a1pol

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October 18, 2013

Mexican Federal Court Halts Invasion of Genetically Modified Corn

Filed under: Maize — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:58 pm

Mexican Federal Court Halts Invasion of Genetically Modified Corn

By Alfredo Acedo

maízA federal court in Mexico City ordered the Mexican government “to suspend the issue of permits for experimental, pilot or commercial cultivation of genetically modified corn” on October 10th, 2013. This is the first victory in a class-action suit filed against the invasion of Monsanto corn in Mexico.

The class action suit is a legal instrument only recently introduced in Mexico to allow organized groups to bring actions to court to defend their rights in common. A group of 20 organizations and 53 individuals filed the class action suit against the ministries of agriculture and the environment of the federal government and against the companies seeking permission to sow GM corn—the transnational  companies Monsanto, Pioneer, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences and Syngenta.

The plaintiffs—producers, environmentalists, lawyers, scientists and artists—argued that the precautionary principle applies, which states that an action or policy with a suspected risk of causing harm, in the absence of scientific consensus, must be proven harmless before being adopted. They also cited the right to healthy food and a safe environment, and the defense of maize biodiversity. The lead plaintiff on the case is the activist Adelita San Vicente.

Since mid-2012, a handful of transnational corporations headed by Monsanto has requested permits for the commercial planting of GM corn on a surface area equivalent to the entire arable land in the northern states of Sinaloa and Tamaulipas (a little more than a million hectares), as well as other large areas of Chihuahua, Durango and Coahuila that add up to some 10 million hectares. So far, the federal government has not authorized the permits due to the strong opposition of civil society organizations.

Breaking a moratorium of more than a decade, beginning in 2009 the past administration of Felipe Calderon allowed open-air cultivation of GM corn in several states in the northern part of the country, falsely and deceptively claiming that there are no native varieties in this region.  The government authorized permits for the experimental and pilot phases prior to the commercial production phase, according to the sequence established in the Law on Biosecurity and Genetically Modified Organisms, also known as the “Monsanto Law”.

The Ministry of Agriculture announced that through 2012 it emitted 193 permits to sow GM corn—168 in the experimental phase and 25 in the pilot phase—on a surface area of 3,452 hectares.

In January, the National Union of Regional Autonomous Peasant Organizations (UNORCA) held a hunger strike demanding cancellation of permits for any type of GM corn cultivation in the country, right before the deadline ran out for government authorization of the first requests for permits for commercial plantings. Hundreds of members of the organization set up the strike in front of the Angel of Independence, in a central avenue of Mexico City. They ended the strike after several days to participate in a large demonstration that culminated in the city’s central plaza, or Zocalo. Tens of thousands of people demanded, among other demands, ‘No to GM corn, Monsanto OUT!’

Over the past year, the environmental organization Greenpeace staged a series of spectacular actions to focus public attention on the rejection of GM corn, broadcast radio messages and, along with other organizations, led the on-going campaign of 120,000 Mexicans against GM corn to back up a citizen initiative to reform the Law on Biosecurity to prohibit planting GM corn in Mexico.

UNORCA leader, Olegario Carrillo, stated that the ruling on the class action suit is an historic triumph for Mexico civil society because it’s an opportunity to open up a broad debate and provide more information to the public on an issue that has been banned by the mainstream media. For now, it has succeeded in stopping one of the main sources for GM contamination of Mexican corn.

“If justice prevails, we will win this case to kick Monsanto’s GM inventions out of the country. We’ve already won the debate and that’s why the transnational has refused to openly confront our arguments even though we issued them a public invitation.” the farm leader said.

He added, “By area planted, and for many other reasons, corn is Mexico’s most important crop and it’s the main grain cultivated in the world now. In our country, the centre of origin, there are more than 60 native strains and thousands of varieties. It’s an enormous agro-genetic, cultural and historical legacy passed down from the original peoples that will help us to adapt our agriculture to climate change. If we are invaded by GM corn, all this wealth will be lost to contamination. As producers and consumers we’ll be in the pockets of the transnationals led by Monsanto that through patents will make us pay royalties for growing and eating corn. We grow corn in the most unimaginable places and it is the base of more than 300 products.”

“These companies that monopolize the seed market on the global scale have enough power to influence governments. We saw that with (President Barack) Obama and his bill to protect Monsanto, and with the World Health Organization that declared that GM foods were harmless. But there are serious studies by scientists who don’t work for the transnationals that demonstrate the causal relationship between GM corn and illnesses like cancer and malfunctions of the kidney, liver and other vital organs.”

Carrillo concludes, “To make matters worse, genetically modified crops don’t even increase yields and it’s a lie that they cost less and need fewer toxic chemicals. In fact, Monsanto’s corn comes linked to an herbicide that is very dangerous called glyphosate or Faena, which is shown to cause serious damage to health and the environment.”

With suspension of the permits for planting GM corn and the class action suit against Monsanto and the federal government, farmers and the general public have won a battle. But the war continues.

Alfredo Acedo is a journalist and director of communications of the National Union of Regional Autonomous Peasant Organizations (UNORCA) and a contributor to the CIP Americas Programme.

http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/10931

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October 16, 2013

Mexican Maize Massacre Reprieve

Filed under: Maize — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:28 pm

Mexican Maize Massacre Reprieve 

maíz-600x274Monsanto and Syngenta, joined by DuPont and Dow are trying to win government approval for the release of GM maize in Mexico, the center of maize diversity. There are now 14 pending applications that, if approved, would cover almost 6 million hectares of land and lead to contamination of the thousands of peasant varieties of maize in Mexico. The good news is that, after years of protests by organizations both inside and outside Mexico, on 10 October a federal judge suspended all activities related to new and pending approvals of GM maize until a trial (juicio) takes place where both sides present their arguments. (For background on GM maize in Spanish, see http://www.etcgroup.org/es/content/rechazo-internacional-la-siembra-de-maíz-transgénico-en-méxico.)

“The ruling is cause for celebration, but the companies are already working to reverse it; the ruling means we can take a breath, but we can’t let up on the fight,” says Silvia Ribeiro.

Judge Suspends GM Corn Planting

Mexican federal judge Jaime Eduardo Verdugo has issued an injunction ordering the Agriculture Secretariat (Sagarpa) and the Environment Secretariat (Semarnat) not to grant further licences for the sowing of genetically modified (GM) corn, a group of environmental organizations announced on Oct. 10. Mexican law restricts the use of transgenic corn, but recently the government has greatly expanded the area where GM seeds can be sown in pilot projects by companies like the Monsanto Company, Pioneer, Syngenta AG and Dow AgroSciences Environmental activists want to ban all transgenic corn, which they say threatens both Mexico’s biodiversity and the ability of independent farmers to grow organic crops.

monsanto tomatoJudge Verdugo cited “the risk of imminent harm to the environment” as the basis for the injunction, a temporary restraining order in response to a suit that scientists, farmers, activists and environmental groups filed on July 5 with the Twelfth Federal District Civil Court in Mexico City. The Mexican branch of the international organization Greenpeace noted that the injunction is just “the first step for the definitive protection of biological diversity.” According to attorney Romualdo Hernández Naranjo of the legal advocacy group Collective Actions AC, the real significance of the judge’s order is that the judicial branch has finally agreed to participate in the debate over the use of GM seeds in the country. Until now the federal executive branch has acted on the issue with no oversight from other parts of the government.

The news of the Mexican injunction came just two days before activists held an international March against Monsanto, the Missouri-based multinational that dominates the transgenic seed industry. Protests were reportedly organized for Oct. 12 in more than 500 cities in as many as 57 countries, with about the same level of participation as on a similar day of action on May 25.

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