Amidst various news cycles of absurd demands and hateful reactions in the U.S., I was recently struck by some hopeful news of civility and constructive engagement from Mexico. Adelita San Vicente Tello, director of the non-governmental organization Semillas de Vida(Seeds of Life) and a leader in the Mexican Sin Maíz No Hay País (No Corn, No Country) campaign, wrote to say that she would be moving on from her organization to take a position in the progressive López Obrador administration.
This is exciting news for several reasons. To start, in June, more than 200 Mexican scientists, campesino, indigenous, student and other civil society leaders (including Dr. San Vicente) sent a letter to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador insisting that he issue a presidential decree to establish a comprehensive biosafety policy to protect native varieties of corn and other key crops. They proposed that the decree require signs in the 26,000 Diconsa public stores explaining that corn sold there should only be eaten and not planted so as not to contaminate native corn; prohibit permits for planting GMO seeds, including those produced through new gene editing techniques; establish a moratorium on U.S. corn imports as these protections are phased in, as well as sterilizing or grinding imported corn to prevent its use as seeds; conduct systematic monitoring of GMOs and expansion of scientific facilities in the Agriculture Ministry to detect them; improve research on biosecurity and food safety issues related to GMOs; and develop new regulations in the Environment Ministry on these issues.