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Monsanto and DuPont Lose Initial Appeals over Mexico GM Maize Ban

gm corn mexico protest

The legal battles over the existing ban on the planting of GM maize in Mexico continue to unfold with a string of four important court victories by the Acción Colectiva del Maíz.

On February 28, 2015, the collective of organizations known as Acción Colectiva del Maíz announced that they had secured four more favorable court decisions involving amparo (shelter) corporate challenges seeking to end the GMO corn ban in Mexico. These are pivotal victories but the group explains that more administrative and judicial reviews remain to be adjudicated, including five by Monsanto and Syngenta against the use of precautionary measures to manage the bio-safety risks posed by GM corn.

We last reported in 2014 how these decisions reveal a very significant shift in Mexico’s federal civil law judiciary since the legal logic upholding the GMO corn ban privileges Mexico’s signatory status in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Cartegena Biosafety Protocols, and Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization over the nation’s other countervailing obligations under investor-state trade treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the pending TransPacific Partnership (TPP).

The most recent set of court decrees upheld the continued suspension of authorizations to plant transgenic maize in Mexico. According to a press release posted to the Sin Maíz no Hay País home page, the judges recognized “the supremacy of the right of the collectivity of corn over the transnational seed companies.”

On Friday morning, February 27 two courts upheld two injunctions ordering the suspension of the planting of GM maize and verified the continuing status of the class action lawsuit, which was filed in July 2013 by agroecologists, indigenous and traditional farmers and plant breeders, human rights and environmental activists, and artists. The group that filed the lawsuit seeks to defend corn in all its biological diversity and socio-cultural significance.

The upholding of the ban adds to a growing list of victories that includes the multinational corporation Monsanto, which last week saw its latest appeal rejected unanimously. On Wednesday February 25, the DuPont Corporation also lost an appeal. The class action case faces one more juridical review but there are an additional five amparos pending over limits the corporations seek, in effect, to block verifiable and effective application of precautionary measures previously ordered by the courts.

The current set of four court rulings all reveal a willingness on the part of these four federal civil law judges to recognize the preemptive and superior right of the  corn protection group over seed companies in the defense of biodiversity and the quality of corn as the nation’s principal staple food item.

Corn producer Emiliano Juárez explains the significance of the upholding of the ban: “It is clear that if the planting of transgenic corn is contaminating our countryside and foods; the effect is the same as tobacco, both on our health and in the fields, and there is no way to avoid dispersion in the environment while the damage to our bodies is seldom immediate.”