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article imageMonsanto Co. seeks to take over Mexico's heartland with GM maize

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By Anne Sewell     Nov 22, 2012 in Environment
If their requests are approved by outgoing president Felipe Calderón, Monsanto Co. and DuPont will be planting 2,500,000 hectares (more than 6 million acres) of transgenic or GM maize in the heartland of Mexico. (Updated.)
According to ETC Group, the consequences will be devastating for the heart of the center of origin and diversity for maize, and also globally.
Mexico is considered to be the global repository of maize genetic diversity, as scientists have identified thousands of peasant varieties of maize. Should Monsanto's applications be approved, this would mark the world's first commercial-scale planting of GM varieties of a major food group, in it's center of origin.
Basically this would wipe out all biodiversity, and all the various local varieties of maize, developed over around 7,000 years.
Outrage was heard throughout Mexico, when the world's two largest commercial seed companies, Monsanto Co. and DuPont (whose seed business is known as DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.) applied to the Mexico government for the planting of 2,500,000 hectares (more than 6 million acres) of transgenic maize in Mexico.
Mexican maize farmer
Mexican maize farmer
Wake Up World
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The amount of land involved is massive, and is approximately the size of El Salvador.
December planting deadlines are looming, and civil society organizations and social movements have called for an end to all GM maize in Mexico.
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCCS) in Mexico has called on the Mexico Government to stop processing any application for open-field release of GM Maize. The ETC Group joins these calls, and is appealing to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and also to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Both these intergovernmental bodies are mandated to support food security and biodiversity and ETC Group asks them to take immediate action in the matter.
Verónica Villa from ETC’s Mexico office says, “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. 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. This is the same type of GM maize that has been linked to cancer in rats according to a recently published peer-reviewed study," she added.
Writer Jack Adam Weber, wrote on Wake Up World on what he calls a "a devastating corn distribution plan by the “The Diabolic Trinity”: Monsanto, Dupont, and Dow."
He says that Biotech has planned this perfectly, by applying to President Calderón, just as he is due to leave office on December 1st. Weber says that the president has "little to lose and lots to gain in the likely hidden royalties (read: bribe money) coming to him for pushing this through."
He quotes the words of Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group’s Latin America Director: “It would be a monumental injustice for the creators of maize – who have so benefited humankind – to be obliged to pay royalties to a transnational corporation that exploited their knowledge in the first place.”
Weber mentions that, "I grew up part-time in Mexico. If you don’t know the country, I’ll tell you it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and the Mexican people are magnanimous and kind. The culture is rich and the creations made with corn - from fresh tortillas used for tacos and tostadas to tamales to posole soup to gorditas and corn chips (tostaditos) - is the best food anywhere," and says that this will be dangerously jeopardized by the planting of transgenic, or genetically modified, maize.
Weber also states, "What’s scarier is the possibility for Mexican farmers to experience what has been the plight of similar-statured Indian farmers, if the Mexican GMO crops fail: mass suicide. This is beyond criminal, beyond sad, beyond an outrage. It is unforgivable to effectively pollute and destroy thousands of years of hard work by the indigenous and mestizo peoples of Mexico."
Weber also mentions a Facebook page for the GMO Eradication Movement (GEM), which is fighting the planting of GMO's worldwide and mentions a petition that is being run by Avaaz addressed to the President of Mexico, to "Stop GMO Corn from Contaminating Mexico's Heartland."
The ETC Group's full report on the issue can be read here.
Update - November 24:
Mexico's decision has been postponed until next year - read more.
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