Quantcast
Food

59 Indigenous Corn Varieties at Risk as Monsanto Eyes Mexico

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.

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.

Chef Pancho Ibanez of Mexico City-based restaurant Pujol. He joins roughly 80 other Mexican chefs who are speaking out against GMO corn. Photo credit: Financial Times

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.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Outraged Republican Senator Vows to Block Appointment of FDA Commissioner Over GMO Salmon

Taiwan Bans GMOs in Schools, Mandates Strict Label Laws

Nestle, Pepsi Fined for Concealing GMOs as Campbell Soup Announces Voluntary Label

Organic Farmers Win GMO Fight in Jackson County, Oregon

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular
The battlefield of Verdun is part of France's Zone Rouge, cordoned off since the end of WWI. Oeuvre personnelle / Wikimedia Commons

This World War I Battlefield Is a Haunting Reminder of the Environmental Costs of War

World War I ended 100 years ago on Sunday, but 42,000 acres in northeast France serve as a living memorial to the human and environmental costs of war.

The battle of Verdun was the longest continuous conflict in the Great War, and it so devastated the land it took place on that, after the war, the government cordoned it off-limits to human habitation. What was once farmland became the Zone Rouge, or Red Zone, as National Geographic reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Westend61 / Getty Images

EcoWatch Gratitude Photo Contest: Submit Now!

EcoWatch is pleased to announce its first photo contest! Show us what in nature you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Whether you have a love for oceans, animals, or parks, we want to see your best photos that capture what you love about this planet.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Waves from the Atlantic Ocean crash against a scenic beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This sandy peninsula is a popular summer vacation destination and is also known for its many Great White sharks. Velvetfish / iStock / Getty Images

Cape Cod’s Gray Seal and White Shark Problem Is Anything but Black-and-White

By Jason Bittel

On a sunny Saturday in mid-September, 26-year-old Arthur Medici was boogie-boarding in the waves off Wellfleet, Massachusetts, when a great white shark bit his leg. Despite the efforts of a friend who pulled him ashore and the paramedics who rushed him to the hospital, Medici died from his injuries. It's about as tragic a story as you can imagine: a young life cut short due to a freak run-in with a wild animal.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
Max Pixel

Koch Industries Lobbies Against Electric Vehicle Tax Credit

By Dana Drugmand

Koch Industries is calling for the elimination of tax credits for electric vehicles (EVs), all while claiming that it does not oppose plug-in cars and inviting the elimination of oil and gas subsidies that the petroleum conglomerate and its industry peers receive.

Outgoing Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller introduced a bill in September that would lift the sales cap on electric vehicles eligible for a federal tax credit, and replace the cap with a deadline that would dictate when the credit would start being phased out.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Pexels

10 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Neonics

By Daniel Raichel

As massive numbers of bees and other pollinators keep dying across the globe, study after study continues to connect these deaths to neonicotinoid pesticides (A.K.A. "neonics"). With the science piling up, and other countries starting to take critical pollinator-saving action, here's a quick primer on all things neonics:

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Judita Juknele / EyeEm / Getty Images

Lyme Disease Expected to Surge

By Marlene Cimons

German physician Alfred Buchwald had no clue that the chronic skin inflammation he described in 1883 was the first recorded case of a serious tick-carrying disease, one that would take hold in a small Connecticut town almost a century later and go on to afflict people across the U.S.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
Black rhino. Gerry Zambonini / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

China Restores Rhino and Tiger Parts Ban After International Fury

Great news from China! Following intense international backlash, the Chinese government said Monday that it has postponed a regulation that would have allowed the use of tiger bone and rhino horn for medicine, research and other purposes.

In October, China alarmed animal rights activists around the world when it weakened a 25-year-old ban on the trading of the animal parts. Conservationists said it would be akin to signing a "death warrant" for endangered tiger and rhino populations.

Keep reading... Show less
Oceans
The federal government must consider endangered species like sea otters before issue fracking permits off California's southern coast. Danita Delimon / Gallo Images / Getty Images

Judge: Wildlife Must Be Considered Before Permitting Fracking Off SoCal Coast

In what environmentalists are calling a major victory, a California judge ruled Friday that the Trump administration cannot approve any new fracking off the state's southern coast until a full review is done assessing the controversial technique's impact on endangered species and coastal resources, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!