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Mar 23, 2009

Mexico Gives Green Light to Field Test GM Corn

Ariel Alvarez,
Chairman of Mexico's Joint
Biosafety and GMO Commission
On 23 March 2009, Food & Chemical News reports that the Diario Oficial de Mexico has announced that Mexico has approved the experimental testing of gene modified (GM) maize.

Following the announcement Ariel Alvarez, chairman of Mexico's Joint Biosafety and GMO Commission told the press, that "[t]his technology has a lot of promise, and even though it could benefit us in many ways, it comes with risks. We need to move forward cautiously, because the least desirable option is to prolong the pattern of doing nothing at all."

Ariel Alvarez also followed up the announcement by putting in a request at Mexico's top research institutions to "redouble their efforts to develop food crop seeds suited to Mexican growing conditions."

There is no legal time limit for moving the experimental GM maize plantings to the commercial phase. For this reason, Food and Chemical News predicts that it will be difficult for the generally pro-biotechnology policies of President Felipe Calderon (photo featured above, left) to implement final approval of GM corns but the end of his term in office in 2012.

The experimental GM maize plantings were supported by the medium to large farmers represented by the Northern Sinaloa Rural Property Owners Association.  Their support is based on the fact that they find it difficult to compete with GM corn imported from the United States under NAFTA and they would like to reduce expenditures on pesticides and herbicides. 

The National Confederation of Small-Scale Farmers (CNC) in the state of Colima was more cautious calling for more research on the pros and cons of releasing GE maize.  They did acknowledge that GM maize could improve the environment by reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides. 

The opposition is led by Greenpeace Mexico.  They accused the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture and Livestrock (SAGARPA) of protect[ing] the interest of the biotechnology industry, including transnational companies like Monsanto." They charge that the legality of the experimental fields are in question as SAGARPA denied opponents the opportunity to adequately express their concerns related to GM maize in public hearings.

Juan Rafael Elvira, Secretary of Natural Resources and the Environment has commented that states retain the right to unilaterally impose bans on GE maize based on "perceived threats to the local environment." He pledged he would protect against contamination of areas were the maize is not approved for planting and probihit its co-mingling with native maize varieties

Photo: Mexican President, Felipe Calderon

For more see: Lewis, Steven. "Mexican biotech corn gets both green and yellow lights.(BIOTECHNOLOGY)." Food Chemical News. 2009.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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