Don't Miss Out

Subscribe to OCA's News & Alerts.

Monsanto Meets its Match in the Birthplace of Maize

For Related Articles and More Information, Please Visit OCA's Genetic Engineering Page and our Millions Against Monsanto Page.

On April 21, a Mexican judge dealt a blow to the efforts of agricultural behemoth Monsanto and other biotech companies to open the country to the commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) maize. The ruling upheld the injunction issued last October that put a halt to further testing or commercial planting of the crop, citing "the risk of imminent harm to the environment."

In a fitting tribute to Mexican surrealism, Monsanto had accused the judge who upheld the injunction of failing to be "impartial." I don't know if the presiding judge smiled when he denied Monsanto's complaint, but I did.

I had just arrived in Mexico to look at the GM controversy, and I could tell it was going to be quite a visit.

The original injunction came last October as the result of a class action suit filed by 53 citizen plaintiffs, including farmers, environmentalists, and consumers. They claimed the Mexican government's approval of permits for planting genetically modified maize violated the country's laws guaranteeing the protection of native varieties.

The legal case is complex, but the core issue couldn't be simpler.

Mexico is recognized as the "center of origin" for maize, and is home to many diverse strains of the crop's seeds. Each of these core strains-known as landraces-evolved over thousands of years in Mexico to adapt to both local environmental conditions and human tastes and desires. Each landrace has evolved further into a rich array of local varieties.