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Mexican Legislators Approve "Monsanto's Law"

Mexican Lawmakers Approve Controversial GM Law

Dec 15, 2004

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican lawmakers approved a new law on Tuesday to
regulate genetically modified crops, but opponents said it catered more to
the interests of big business than to the protection of centuries-old
biodiversity.

Legislators in Mexico's lower house of Congress approved the law by a vote
of 319 to 105, with 17 abstentions.

Supporters said it would enable the regulation of GM crops in Mexico and an
evaluation of any possible risks to human health and the environment.

Opposition to the law came mostly from the leftist Party of the Democratic
Revolution, which claimed, along with environmental groups like Greenpeace,
that the new law would endanger corn diversity in Mexico, the birthplace of
the grain.

"It's important to make clear that we are not completely satisfied with the
result, given it does not express many of the demands we come across in the
course of our work," said PRD deputy Jose Luis Cabrera.

Greenpeace has called the new legislation the "Monsanto Law," claiming it
protects the economic interests of the multinational producer of genetically
modified crops from policies that could cut into profits.

"This only benefits multinationals and supports the interests of a tiny
elite in Mexico and goes against thousands of farmers," Greenpeace
spokeswoman Cecilia Navarro told local media after one of the group's
activists briefly entered the debating chamber in Congress.

A NAFTA environmental panel from Canada, the United States and Mexico
recommended in October that Mexico adopt strict measures to control imports
of genetically modified corn.

One recommended measure, which could only be carried out at considerable
expense to companies like Monsanto, was that corn be milled at the border,
before entering Mexico, in order to prevent contamination of its
7,000-year-old corn gene pool.

In recent weeks the report was attacked by U.S. authorities as
"fundamentally flawed and unscientific," and Mexican trade authorities said
they had no plans to change import policies.

Mexican farmers say they need to stop imported corn that is genetically
modified from mixing with local strains.

Mexico is viewed by scientists as the birthplace of corn and many fear that
introducing transgenic or genetically modified corn could harm it.