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Ignacio Chapela on Mexico's New "Monsanto Law"

GM WATCH daily

Here's an English summary, c/o Nick Jackson of GM Watch, of Ignacio
Chapela's open letter on Mexico's new law on "Biosafety". It was written in
the run up to the bill's final approval by the Mexican Congress.

Add your voice to the global protest over the treatment of Dr Chapela:

1. Chapela letter - English summary

The proposed legislation about to be passed by the Chamber of
Representatives might well be re-titled: "The Law for Genetic Colonisation
for the 21st Century" or "The Law for the Promotion and Gratification of the
New Genetic Colonies". The legislation only succeeds in ensuring the
interests of a tiny elite within Mexico which in turn represents the narrow
interests of political and economic powers at home and abroad.

The implications of GM technology are profound and the effects of GMOs
unpredictable. The government tells us that it knows of no damage caused by
the release of transgenics, but this might well be a cause for alarm rather
than complacency. No evidence exists simply because no attention has been
paid to the obvious problems of genetic manipulation. Any research
expressing reservations in respect of transgenics is routinely discredited.
Those studies that purport to find no evidence of risks from transgenics are
invariably funded by the industry itself.

Any opposition to the dogmatic principles of the science at the core of this
legislation is stifled. The dangers of genetic contamination are barely
mentioned. Similarly watered down is any attempt to enforce labelling and
public information about transgenic products, and the legislation has
effectively excluded public representation in the decision-making process.

Many countries have rejected GMOs outright or introduced strict controls
Even in the US, opposition to GMOs is growing. In the midst of this climate
of opposition we might wonder why the Mexican government is so keen to rush
through this piece of legislation.

It is obviously in the interests of those who have ploughed millions of
dollars into the research, without seeing any benefits. Under the aegis of
the US State Department, the big companies are poised to cash in on the
introduction of GMOs in Mexico. Monsanto has declared its intention to claim
property rights on transgenic maize found in Chiapas with no consideration
for the rights of small landowners to save their seed and avoid genetic
contamination of their crops.

Mexico, the land where maize originated, is set to become the centre of a
struggle to foist transgenics onto the market by way of multinationals such
as Monsanto, Syngenta (Novartis), Dupont and the Mexican company
Seminis/Savia. Mexico, the repository of genetic riches, could become the
dumping ground for the transgenic products no one wants.

The Mexican government must reject the legislation to protect our national
interests. It must reject the imposition of alien political and economic

"Land, Liberty and Genetic Independence"

Ignacio H. Chapela
Berkeley, California, 13 December 2004

This GMO news service is underwritten by a generous grant from the Newman's
Own Foundation, edited by Thomas Wittman and is a production of the
Ecological Farming Association <>