by J.D. Heyes
December 04, 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
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
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
"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
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
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,
evaluations show... that GM corn does not provide a solution o
this problem," the group said.