On October 10, the Federal District Court for Civil Matters in Mexico City ruled in favor of the suspension of existing or pending permits for the use of genetically modified corn. The ruling, addressed to the Agriculture Ministry (SAGARPA) and the Environment Ministry (SEMARNAT), is an important victory for the farmers and civil society organizations that have long been fighting for food sovereignty and an end to the use of GM seeds in Mexico.
“Genetically modified crops demand countless plots of land, monocultures and above all, lots of capital; not to mention the fact that their cultivation relies on the constant use of chemical products,” said Carlo Petrini, president of Slow Food. “We are talking about a type of agriculture that has developed out of the industrial age, which over time has proven extremely harmful for small-scale producers, traditional varieties and rural economies, as well as for the health of the environment and people. This is why the decision taken by the federal court should be celebrated as a victory for the incredible biodiversity of Mexico and for those fighting to preserve it.”
The legal decision is the result of a class action lawsuit brought by citizens, farmers, environmentalists, indigenous peoples, lawyers, scientists and activists, who have been struggling to defend Mexico’s most representative crop—corn—from attack by GM crops owned by corporations, such as Monsanto and Pioneer, which are imposing themselves onto the international market.
Presented on June 5, signatories of the collective lawsuit included several representatives from the Slow Food movement in Mexico: Raúl Hernández Garciadiego, who coordinates the Tehuacán Amaranth Presidium (http://www.slowfoodfoundation.com/presidia/details/653/tehuac%C3%A1n-amaranth), José Carlos Redon, the leader of the Slow Food Del Bosque Convivium ([email protected]), Eduardo Correa, coordinator of the Slow Food Youth Network in Mexico (http://www.slowfoodyouthnetwork.org/where-are-we/) and the Tosepan Titatanisake cooperative, which coordinates the Puebla Sierra Norte Native Bees Honey Presidium (http://www.slowfoodfoundation.com/presidia/details/4633/puebla-sierra-norte-native-bees-honey).
“This measure protects the entire country,” said Raúl Hernández Garciadiego, “understood as this united territory in which corn was first cultivated, a crop that local populations have maintained and improved for over 7,000 years, and which still today represents the staple food of the traditional Mexican diet.”
The class action lawsuit highlighted the environmental risks linked to GM crops, and was supported by evidence documenting the contamination of Mexico’s native corn varieties with unwanted genetically modified genes. In the judge’s ruling he cited “the risk of imminent harm to the environment” as the basis for the decision. Multinationals can no longer sell or plant their corn in Mexico while the suspension is in force.
Eduardo Correa described the victory: “We feel honored to have been able to participate in the signing of this historic document. As part of the Slow Food network, it is our duty to take a stand and act in accordance with our ideals. It is no longer enough to be responsible co-producers. Today we must actively defend all that we consider essential for nature and for ourselves. We thank those who started this campaign for the good of everyone and we are proud to be able to actively fight for the protection of Mexican corn: Sin Maíz No Hay País [Without Corn, There Is No Country].”
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Slow Food International Press Office
Paola Nano: +39 329 8321285 [email protected]