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Chow writes: "Mexico's unique and treasured native corn varieties could be under threat as Monsanto, the world's largest seed producer, vies to plant genetically modified (GMO) corn in the country."

A Mexican woman carries cobs of different corn varieties during a protest in Mexico City. (photo: AFP)
A Mexican woman carries cobs of different corn varieties during a protest in Mexico City. (photo: AFP)

59 Indigenous Corn Varieties at Risk as Monsanto Eyes Mexico

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch

17 January 16


exico’s unique and treasured native corn varieties could be under threat as Monsanto, the world’s largest seed producer, vies to plant genetically modified (GMO) corn in the country.

In August 2015, a Mexican judged overturned a September 2013 ban on GMO corn, thus opening more business opportunities for Monsanto and other agribusinesses pending favorable later court decisions. Monsanto even announced in October 2015 that it was seeking to double its sales in the country over the next five years.

The GMO corn ban remains pending a ruling on the appeal, but a final decision could end up in Mexico’s supreme court.

Monsanto, which is seeking five permits to grow GMO corn in five areas in northern Mexico, touts that the bioengineered crop is a ticket out of poverty for small farmers since the crops purportedly result in higher yields and profits, the Financial Times reported.

“It’s incredible that we are not giving [small farmers] the option to cross the poverty line,” Monsanto’s chief executive for northern Latin America, Manuel Bravo told the publication.

He added that the controversial multinational company has trouble “communicating” its message.

“We’re the company that employs the most PhDs in the world after NASA. We’re good at talking to Petri dishes, but we were no good at communicating,” Bravo said.

However, community advocates and chefs warn that Mexico’s 59 indigenous corn varieties could be under threat by GMOs. As you can see in this video from the Financial Times, the country’s most noted chefs are speaking out against a possible takeover. Roughly 80 other Mexican chefs have also joined the fight against GMO corn.

“If we allow all these varieties of corn to be lost, we’ll lose part of our identity,” said Chef Pancho Ibanez of the world-renowned Pujol in Mexico City. “It’s as if we were cutting of our feet, cutting off the roots of a tree. It’s something that could seem so simple, so basic but it’s our past, present and future.”

According to Rabobank, the prominent Netherlands-based food and agribusiness banking company, Mexico is second largest importer of corn in the world, as well as the sixth largest producer and the sixth largest consumer of corn in the world.

Additionally, the bank said, Mexico has two different corn markets: one for white corn (mainly for human consumption) and the other for yellow corn (mainly for animal feed).

Mexico imports its yellow corn from the U.S., and since 90 percent of U.S. corn is grown from Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds, this mean Monsanto is inadvertently dominating Mexico’s yellow corn market.

EcoWatch reported in November that a staunch anti-GMO movement has swelled in the country in order to preserve the unique biodiversity of Mexico’s staple crop. As the World Watch Institute wrote:

For years, scientists and environmental activists have been warning the Mexican government that GMOs in imported corn could harm Mexico’s exceptionally rich biological and cultural diversity. The known risks of GMOs include the creation of hard-to-control weedy relatives of crops through “crop-to-wild hybridization,” the development of insect pests or weeds that are resistant to the chemicals used with GMO crops, and the unintentional poisoning of beneficial insects and non-target species. your social media marketing partner


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+17 # nancyw 2016-01-17 12:31
Well, we can bet that that judge was bribed royally by the insidious and evil Monsanto. Hope Mexico keeps them out and that they grow their own yellow corn. I bet they were forced to buy yellow corn from US with good ol wrong NAFTA. Business without morals, the way it is. Revolution!
+14 # Shades of gray matter 2016-01-17 13:07
For decades, NON-VOTING, willfully uninformed U.S. taxpayers subsidized corporate welfare farmers so much that they undersold poor farmers in Third World nations. The Predatory Competition, paid for by willfully ignorant and passive American tax payers, drove poor farmers off their land, and it was grabbed up by U.S. BASED GlobalCorps, using US taxpayer dollars. WE snooze, the whole world loses. Some poor countries get 70-80-90% voter turn-out. We'd rather whine, rant.
+12 # Street Level 2016-01-17 13:49
Bio-Terrorism. We are the terrorists. Monsanto and Dow will send in their Black Ops and contaminate the strains like they tried to do with gm wheat.
We need all to stop us.
+11 # dlet60 2016-01-17 14:51
The only way that Mexico can buy corn from the US at cheaper prices than their own farmers can grow it is if this US corn was subsidized by the our gov't. Very clearly the US government is paying Monsanto to poison the environment and drive Mexican farmers off their land. Then we have an immigration problem when those farmers come here looking for work. The joke is on us, fools that we are.
+5 # elizabethblock 2016-01-17 18:26
“It’s incredible that we are not giving [small farmers] the option to cross the poverty line,” Monsanto’s chief executive for northern Latin America, Manuel Bravo told the publication.

Monsanto will be shoving small farmers across the poverty line ... in the other direction, from poverty to destitution and starvation.
+3 # Holmes 2016-01-17 19:01
Yet again the fragility of the commons is being demonstrated. Unless there is a group dedicated to preserving crop germplasm it is doomed to disappear. Sure the attraction of using crops which have built-in pest control with enhanced herbicide tolerance will be very attractive to farmers. But this is nothing new, crop varieties are replaces as higher yielding or better disease resistant varieties are bred and released.

This story is only half the story. Who is doing the work to ensure that the genes/varieties are being preserved? Mutations in crop diseases are a fact of life. The Potato famine of Ireland, the black rust of wheat currently running. Even the Bible includes references to pestilences and crop loss due to diseases.

Surely what is needed is to have publically financed and run crop variety libraries together with sufficient resources to preserve these old varieties as well as to modify them to improve yields, resit diseases, while preserving and even enhancing the actual characteristics which give the current varieties such appeal.

This type of service is part of the National “Civil Defense” effort. Abandoning this area to profit motivated opportunists is a recipe for future disasters.
+2 # geohorse 2016-01-18 07:30
The poisoning of our land in conjunction with GMO's, loss of soil, big ag controlling a virtually uninspected food industry, loss of small farms, etc. never comes up in the presidential "debates". Corporate colonialism of the world thanks to our military/CIA, etc. as the basis of so much unrest in the world as indigenous people are kicked off their lands is never addressed. Is there any way to correct this?
+3 # PABLO DIABLO 2016-01-18 13:49
Boycott the corporations that are killing us. They won't change. WE MUST.

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