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Mexico: Front Line of the Global Food War

Mexico is battling to revitalize indigenous corn, while the US seeks to stop the spread of a movement against GM food and agrichemicals.

Mexico is rapidly turning into the main battleground in a cultural and commercial war over how the world grows its food — and it should come as no surprise that the conflict centers on the nation's most talismanic crop: corn.

It was, after all, in Mexico that people first cultivated maize from the teosinte plant 10,000 years ago. The country now boasts 64 different strains, which are mashed, fried and kneaded into at least 600 traditional dishes, from tortilla flatbreads — which most Mexicans eat on a daily basis — to spicy pozole soup.

In an astonishing twist of fate, however, the country that first farmed the crop now vies with Japan to be the world's biggest importer, and buys mainly genetically modified maize from the giant farms of the United States, with which it finds it hard to compete.