Mexico bans GM corn planting

Mexico bans GM corn planting

Federal judge suspends planting of GM corn in Mexico, but importing GM corn from U.S. still allowed.

A FEDERAL district court judge in Mexico issued an injunction Oct. 10 halting the planting of genetically modified (GM) corn field trials in the country.

Judge Jaime Eduardo Verdugo J. of the 12th District Court for Civil Matters of Mexico cited "the risk of damage to the environment" as the determining factor in the final ruling.

The verdict ordered Mexico's secretary of agriculture and secretary of environment to "suspend all activities involving the planting of transgenic corn in the country and end the granting of permission for experimental and pilot commercial plantings."

The court ruling occurred approximately two years after the Mexican government temporarily postponed the expansion of GM corn testing by international seed companies such as Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, PHI Mexico and Dow AgroSciences.

Last July, 53 citizens and 20 civil associations filed suit to prevent field trials of GM corn that the seed companies had planned in Mexico. The group viewed the ruling, which is a suspension, as the first step in making Mexico a GM crop-free country.

A moratorium on planting GM corn in Mexico, the birthplace of corn, has been in effect since 1998. The Mexican government has been slowly moving in the direction of approving the planting and marketing of GM corn while searching for a solution to increase the country's corn yields.

In 2010, the government first allowed small pilot plots of GM corn, and large commercial field trials were subsequently approved.

At press time, agricultural companies had not received any authorized communication in regards to the judgment.

"Monsanto has not been officially notified yet of any legal action against the suspension of GM corn permits in Mexico," according to a statement from Monsanto. "We heard in the media that a group of non-governmental organizations and social activists filed a class action suit against government agencies and biotech companies in Mexico.

"Once we are officially notified and review the details, we will be able to analyze the legal implications and the possible impact of denying farmers access to proven technologies that can make a difference for them, their farming operations, their livelihoods and the people they serve," the company added.

Furthermore, the statement continued, "Monsanto respects the different views on the use of biotechnology in corn as a viable alternative to contribute to increasing Mexican farmers' productivity. We are open to any dialogue aimed at creating awareness of the benefits of these technologies for growers and society at large."

Mexico's Agriculture Secretary Enrique Martinez y Martinez told El Economista, a Mexican newspaper, that the government was planning to base its decision on science regarding whether to allow further planting of GM corn.

The Oct. 10 judge's ruling is the first time the court has issued a judgment regarding GM seed in Mexico. As a result, Martinez will not issue any additional permits, effective immediately.

Nevertheless, this court ruling does not prohibit the import of U.S. GM corn into Mexico, making it the second-largest market for U.S. corn.

Since the majority of the corn grown in Mexico is used for human food products, the country imports U.S. corn for animal feed.

Volume:85 Issue:44

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