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Campaign against transgenic crops
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Environmentalists demand that government prohibit commercial cultivation of genetically modified corn.

The environmental organization Greenpeace launched on Oct. 16 — World Food Day —a campaign aimed to cancel solicitations made by transnational biotechnology companies to cultivate and sell transgenic corn.

Greenpeace called upon citizens to sign a letter to outgoing President Felipe Calderón demanding the annulment of the recent requests made by US-based companies Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and Dow Agrosciences to commercially cultivate transgenic corn on 1.7 million hectares (4.25 million acres) in the states of Tamaulipas (northeast) and Sinaloa (northwest).

“Allowing Monsanto to commercially plant transgenic corn in the state of Sinaloa, known as the ‘Breadbasket of Mexico’ and number one producer of white corn, would be the ‘coup de grace’ to our right to healthy and quality food. Currently, transgenic crops have contaminated a variety of conventional, native, and organic crops in many parts of the world, including Mexico,” mentions the call to action.

The Mexican government lifted the suspension to cultivate a variety of experimental and commercial transgenic corn in 2009 after a reform to biosecurity legislation. Since then 177 authorizations have been granted to experimentally cultivate transgenic corn and for pilot cultivations, which are initial phases to massively develop commercial cultivation.

Last year the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, urged the governmental authorities to reestablish the suspension, pointing out that the introduction of transgenic corn varieties “could result in a loss in farming biodiversity, a fundamental factor for facing future threats and unpredictable changes caused by climate change” and necessary to combat hunger.

Basing its argument on the constitutional right to healthy, sufficient, and quality food, Greenpeace’s letter demands Calderón to protect native corn, the basis of the Mexican diet, and to immediately prohibit the commercial cultivation requested by the US companies.

“With Monsanto’s solicitation, [they] pretend to victoriously end the administration of the current government,” which ends on Dec. 1, said Aleira Lara, coordinator of Greenpeace’s Sustainable Agriculture and Transgenics campaign. “In other words, a commercial authorization would be total freedom [to cultivate], with no measures to ensure biosecurity, and that presents a grave risk for the food security of Mexican people.”

Monsanto controls about 90 percent of the genetically modified seeds world market, and in Mexico it is the principal recipient of authorizations to experimentally plant transgenic corn. The farmers who acquired seeds patented by Monsanto are prohibited from selling, exchanging, or saving them because if they do, they can face legal actions.

Despite the possible dangers that genetically modified organisms pose to the environment and human health, Monsanto and other transnational biotechnology companies are attempting to introduce transgenic seeds in developing countries, where they are promoting the seeds as the solution to hunger and food scarcity.

“We are completely opposed to allowing the giant transnational companies to use the image of the poor and the people who suffer from hunger in our country to impose their seed patents that are not safe, are a danger to the environment and are not economically profitable,” added Lara. “The majority of the commercialized transgenic crops up to today have been used to feed livestock and not for human consumption. None [of the crops] has been introduced to resolve hunger or poverty issues.”
—Latinamerica Press.

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