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Verdict bans liberalization of transgenic corn
11/4/2013
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Environmentalist organizations accuse government of intending to continue privatization of seeds.

A  Federal Court banned the liberalization of transgenic corn for the purpose of experiments and pilot projects as well as on a commercial level in Mexico in response to demands by social society collectives who denounced the liberalization of genetically modified corn in places where it had not been legally authorized.

The verdict, made public on Oct. 10, prohibits that the Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (SAGARPA) as well as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources grant new licenses for cultivating genetically modified organisms and impedes that the multinational corporations Monsanto, Pioneer, Dow AgoSciencies and Syngenta liberalize transgenic seeds in the scope of experiments, pilot projects and at a commercial level.

The decision, however, is not applied retroactively and the authorizations already granted will be further developed, which puts native corn into jeopardy. In 2009 the Mexican government reformed the law concerning biological security and genetically modified organisms in order to revert a moratorium regarding transgenic corn legally valid since 1998. Mexico as one of the eight “points of origins” of corn in the world, has 59 types and 200 variations of this cereal, the base product of the Mexican diet. Concerning the scientific and technological report SciDev.Net Francisca Acevedo, coordinator of Risk and Security Analysis of the governmental National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) stated that “there is no technology able to do what genetic diversity itself has achieved during millennia.”

Criminalizing of keeping native seeds
In a report concerning the attempts to privatize seeds published on Oct. 23, the international organization GRAIN, that supports community-controlled and biodiversity-based food system, specified that after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Canada came into effect in 1994, “the Mexican legal system took a big step towards seed registration, certification, patenting, and privatization. It is a clear attempt to force farmers to use lab-created seeds and to criminalize the saving and exchange of native seeds, even though these practices have formed the basis of indigenous, peasant, and indeed the entire country’s food systems for millennia.”

Ever since, says GRAIN, “the world’s agribusiness corporations are pursuing their attempts to privatize and monopolize our seeds. Behind their efforts is a clear goal: to make the age-old practice of saving and breeding seeds into a crime and gain monopoly control over seeds.”

During the international day of alimentation which is celebrated on Oct. 16 governmental authorities spoke out in favour of transgenic food products. “Transgenics are another tool to fight poverty,” said commerce secretary Ildefonso Guajardo and therefore Mexico is under the obligation of adopting this technology or “we will subject peasants to historic poverty and low productivity,” while Bolívar Zapata, coordinator of science, technology and innovation of the presidency confirmed that “transgenics are beneficial and do not cause harm to health.”

The environmentalist organization Greenpeace demanded that the Mexican government respects the court verdict and “suspend the cultivation of transgenic corn, staple food of Mexican people and backbone of our food sovereignty.”

“Instead of trying to justify the use of transgenics, state authorities should listen to the voices of scientists who have warned about the dangers of this technology and who have further offered the solution to achieve food sovereignty through ecological models of agriculture which are socially and environmentally sustainable in the long run,” said Greenpeace
. —Latinamerica Press.


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