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Brazil Says 'Yes' to Genetically Modified Foods. Mexico Says 'No'

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

A week and a half ago, according to Mexican media reports, a federal district judge issued an injunction suspending field trials of genetically modified corn. It's been illegal to grow GM corn for consumption in Mexico since 1998, so the decision effectively means no one can grow genetically modified varieties of Mexico's national crop for any reason.

Contrast this with what's happening in Brazil. There, Embrapa, the national agricultural research and development institute, is going full-tilt on a project to bring to market a bean genetically modified to fight off the golden mosaic virus, a plague that, according to the Financial Times, costs the country 8 percent of its average annual bean crop. (Beans are as ubiquitous on Brazilian dinner plates as corn tortillas are in Mexico.) Some 85 percent of Brazil's soy crop is already GM, and the country's Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira (CTC) is working on genetically engineered varieties of sugar cane, a major crop.

Amid the global debate over genetically modified foods (also called genetically modified organisms, or GMOs), it's striking to see Latin America's biggest economic engines going in such different directions on the issue. Throw the U.S. into the mix, and you begin to see just how many ways people can disagree about the acceptability of tinkering with DNA in search of higher yields and hardier plants.   

In the U.S., the controversy pits agricultural giants such as Monsanto (MON) and commodity corn, cotton, and soy farmers against organic farmers and the consumers who favor their produce. The debate is playing out mostly in state ballot initiatives as to whether foods with GM ingredients must be labeled as such on store shelves.  


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