J. D. Heyes
Dec 4, 2012
If agri-giant Monsanto gets its way, the company will destroy all genetic diversity in Mexico’s corn crops by replacing it with genetically modified (GM) corn.
Outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon is considering approval of a proposal by Monsanto, along with fellow agribusiness behemoths DuPont and Dow, to plant some 2.5 million hectares (about 6 million acres) of “transgenic or GM maize” in the country’s heartland, Digital Journal reported recently, noting that the amount of land is approximately the size of the country of El Salvador.
“According to ETC Group, the consequences will be devastating for the heart of the center of origin and diversity for maize, and also globally,” the online publication said.
Ending Mexico’s biodiversity of maize as we know it
If approved by Calderon, “this parting gift to the gene giants will amount to a knife in the heart of the center of origin and diversity for maize,” said the ETC Group, an organization that works to address the socioeconomic and ecological issues surrounding new technologies that could have an impact on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, in a statement published on its website.
The consequences of Calderon’s decision “will be grave – and global,” ETC Group warned, because planting so much GM maize would essentially wipe out all biodiversity, as well as the various local varieties of corn, developed over the course of the past 7,000 years.
The ETC Group says it has appealed to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and also to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), because they “are mandated to support food security and biodiversity,” DJ reported.
“If Mexico’s government allows this crime of historic significance to happen, GMOs will soon be in the food of the entire Mexican population, and genetic contamination of Mexican peasant varieties will be inevitable,” said Veronica Villa from ETC’s Mexico office. “We are talking about damaging more than 7,000 years of indigenous and peasant work that created maize – one of the world’s three most widely eaten crops.”
“As if this weren’t bad enough, the companies want to plant Monsanto’s herbicide-tolerant maize [Mon603] on more than 1,400,000 hectares,” she said. “This is the same type of GM maize that has been linked to cancer in rats according to a recently published peer-reviewed study.”
Adds the Union of Concerned Scientists in Mexico:
“This is grave, as Mexico is not only the cradle of corn, the second most important commodity crop in the world, but it also stewards one of the few Centers of Origin and Diversification, from which the world derives the genetic diversity needed to maintain its production in the mist of new plagues, climatic challenges (Ureta et al., 2011), and consumption preferences.”
GM corn is not the answer to higher, more nutritional yields
Unlike other nations, where corn production is generally controlled by corporations and corn is used primarily as a feed and industrial raw material, the organization said, thousands of different varieties of open-pollinated corn across Mexico are cultivated by millions of indigenous campesino families.
The campesinos produce “most of the corn for human consumption and Mexico’s population ingests large amounts of corn directly, placing its entire population at an acute level of risk from the large-scale exposure to GM agriculture that uses hybrids that are nutritionally inferior to landraces (i.e., higher glycemic index, less fiber, less antioxidants, etc.), as well as to its associated agrotoxics and derived products,” the scientist group said.
Not long ago Mexico was a net exporter of corn. But the erosion of the campesino economy and lack of central government support to agricultural production, have both generated a production deficit, the UCS said. This has been used as an excuse to introduce so much GM corn, though “well-established scientific evaluations show…that GM corn does not provide a solution o this problem,” the group said.
This article was posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 6:15 am