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Mexico Government Under Fire for Approving Test Plots of Monsanto's Genetically Engineered Corn

1.Sign against GM corn in Mexico
2.Greenpeace files complaint against Mexican leader
3.Mexican farm expert lobbies for NAFTA change
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1.Sign against GM corn in Mexico

Dear friends,

We are seeking signatures in support of the attached declaration of the Network in Defense of Maize (in Mexico) to demand the stop of GM maize trials in Mexico, its center of origin.

If you agree, please send your name, organization, country and email to ceccam@ceccam.org.mx , before April 30th.

Please disseminate among your contacts.

NETWORK IN DEFENSE OF CORN
No to transgenic corn!

To the people of Mexico
To the peoples of the world
To the Mexican government
To the Convention on Biological Diversity / Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
To the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations / FAO

The indigenous and peasant organizations and communities, environmental organizations, popular education organizations, base organizations, ecclesiastical communities, groups of producers, members of urban movements, scholars, scientists, and political analysts of the Network In Defense of Corn vigorously repudiate the planting of transgenic corn in Mexico. It is a historic crime against the peoples of maize, against biodiversity and food sovereignty, against ten thousand years of indigenous and peasant agriculture that bequeathed this seed for the well being of all the peoples of the world.

We assert that the presidential decree of March 6 2009, which allows the planting of transgenic corn, intentionally fails to consider that:

Mexico is the center of origin and diversity of corn. There are over 59 known races and thousands of varieties, which will be inevitably contaminated.

It is indigenous and peasant peoples who created and preserve this genetic treasure of corn, one of the main crops on which human and animal nourishment depends around the globe.

Corn is the basic food source for the Mexican population. Nowhere has its everyday consumption in large quantities been studied like here. There are scientific studies which, at much smaller levels of consumption, report allergies and other negative impacts on the health of humans and animals fed with transgenic food.

The varieties of transgenic corn which are being proposed for planting in the country do not solve Mexico's agricultural problems: They are more expensive, since the cost of seeds and licensing are greater than those associated with conventional crops; they do not have a greater rate of return: it is equal or less, unless there is a strong incidence of pests which are not common in Mexico; they require more pesticides since they constantly emit Bt toxins, which generate resistance and secondary pests that must be controlled with other pesticides.

These crops will damage biodiversity and the environment. Since Mexico is an extremely biodiverse country, no research undertaken in other environments is applicable because the variables and interconnections increase exponentially.

Since corn is an open pollinated crop, avoiding transgenic contamination is impossible when cultivated in open fields. Contamination also occurs in warehouses, during transportation, and in industrial facilities.

Transgenic crops are useless for peasant or organic agriculture, but they will unavoidably contaminate native and criollo varieties of corn, while threatening organic production, which will lose its market niche.

All transgenic seeds are patented and are controlled by six multinational companies (Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Dow, Bayer, BASF), which results in a complete dependence of peasants and farm workers on these multinationals and criminalizes the victims of contamination.

The native peoples of Mexico created corn and they have been the guardians and creators of the diversity of varieties currently in existence. Food sovereignty and the preservation of this diversity depend on the integrity of their rights. Because of that, transgenic contamination is an assault on the identity of Mesoamerican peoples and is an act of aggression against ten thousand years of agriculture. The planting of transgenic corn is a frontal attack against native and peasant peoples and a violation of their rights.

For the peoples that constitute Mexico, corn is not merchandise, but the origin of a civilization and the foundation of the livelihood of peasant lives and economies.

We will not let our seeds be lost or contaminated by transgenes owned by transnational companies. We will not comply with unfair laws that criminalize seeds and peasant lifestyle. We will continue protecting corn and the life of our peoples.

We place responsibility for the loss and damage of Mexican corn on the companies that produce transgenic seeds; on the legislative powers that approved the Law of Biosafety and Genetically Modified Organisms ('Monsanto Law') for the benefit of corporations; on the Mexican government; on the secretaries of Agriculture, Environment and the Intersecretarial Commission on Biosafety and GMOs (CIBIOGEM), who are responsible for the final measures to eliminate all legal protections of corn.

For all of those reasons:

*We repudiate the experimental or commercial cultivation of transgenic corn and demand that it be banned in Mexico.

*We repudiate the 'Monsanto Law,' its bylaws, and any other mechanism  to criminalize peasant seeds.

*We repudiate government monitoring of peasant cornfields, because it is  a pretext for eliminating even more peasant seeds.

*We commit ourselves, and call on all indigenous and peasant communities and peoples to do likewise, to defend native seeds and to continue planting, storing, exchanging, and distributing their own seeds, as well as exercising their right over their territories and preventing the cultivation of transgenic corn.

*We call on the population to demand that all produce we consume on a daily basis is GMO-free.

*We call on international agencies to condemn the government of Mexico for this violation of peasant ancestral rights, biodiversity, food sovereignty, and the precautionary principle in centers of origin of basic crops for world nourishment and economy.

NO TO TRANSGENIC CORN!

NETWORK IN DEFENSE OF CORN

More information: http://www.endefensadelmaiz.org
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2.Greenpeace files complaint against Mexican leader
The Associated Press, April 14 2009
http://tiny.cc/eDvsS

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Greenpeace says it has filed a criminal complaint against the Mexican president and other Cabinet members for allowing genetically modified corn to be planted for experimental purposes.

The organization says it filed the complaint with Mexico's federal Attorney General's office, alleging the government has not set up safeguards to protect the crop's genetic diversity, as Mexican law requires.

Mexico has more than 200 varieties of corn.

Mexico last month changed its laws to allow growers to seek permission to plant experimental plots from the Agriculture Department.

Corn originates from pre-Hispanic Mexico. Greenpeace, which announced its actions Tuesday, supports a total ban.
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3.Mexican farm expert lobbies for NAFTA change
by Gosia Wozniacka The Oregonian, April 15 2009
http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2009/04/mexican_farm_expert_lob
bies_fo.html


[EXTRACT ONLY]

Why did so many Mexican farmers migrate to the U.S.?

NAFTA undermined traditional agriculture methods and created a dependence on pesticides. It took away government price guarantees for corn and other products. It left the free market to regulate prices. To keep up, Mexican farmers sowed more corn. Diversified crops were substituted with monocrops. The government and agrobusinesses encouraged farmers to use pesticides to increase yield from the fields.

The Mexican government also approved the experimental planting of GMO corn
[GMW: This is recent. The previous problem has been the planting of US GM corn dumped in Mexico as cheap grain for food part of NAFTA]. Our native corn was contaminated with genetically modified corn and farmers stopped using native seeds.

As a result, farmers abandoned traditional, sustainable farming practices.
Their soil was contaminated by the use of agrochemicals. It became dependent on the pesticides, so farmers had to pay more to buy them. Many could not make ends meet. They abandoned their lands, left to work in maquiladoras, and emigrated to the United States.

Because farmers were no longer cultivating diverse crops and they couldn't compete with market prices, Mexico started to import food from the U.S. Now, Mexico is completely dependent on U.S. foods. In 2003, out of every 100 agricultural products that Mexicans ate, 93 were bought from the United States -even corn, beans, and rice, the staples of Mexican diets. Despite the free trade agreement, the U.S. continues to subsidize its farmers, allowing them to dump huge amounts of corn into Mexico and driving Mexican farmers to abandon their crops.