Past and future collide as Mexico fights over GMO corn

November 13, 2013

Reuters, 11/12/2013

corn - loose yellow cornReligion, culture and science are competing for primacy in the debate on how acceptable corn produced by genetically modified organisms (GMO) is in a country where farmers first domesticated maize about 8,000 years ago.

Last month a federal judge in Mexico City created a stir by ordering a temporary halt to any new GMO corn permits, accepting a lawsuit brought by opponents of the crop. It was widely interpreted as a definitive ban on the commercial use of GMO corn in Mexico, but experts say it will likely just delay any resolution into 2014 or beyond.

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‘People of corn’ protest GMO strain in Mexico

May 17, 2013

corn - loose yellow cornThe Christian Science Monitor, 5/16/2013

Everywhere in Mexico, from the megalopolis of Mexico City to the smallest farming community, the squeaking, creaking sounds of a tortillería churning out corn tortillas can be heard. Corn is the most important staple of the Mexican diet. Corn tortillas of many varieties – white, yellow, blue – figure into every meal of the day. The grain works its way into the national cuisine in endless other ways: The large kernels of hominy corn in rich pozole soup, as the base for spicy tamales, in sweet breads, and in hot, thick atole drinks. It’s native to Mexico, where some 59 indigenous strains of corn exist.

Which is why an emerging debate over whether to allow growers to cultivate genetically modified corn has heated up. Opponents of GMO corn have urged the Mexican government to ban GMO. To draw attention to their cause, on Thursday four local Greenpeace activists climbed a 335-foot monument on Mexico City’s busy Reforma Avenue and dropped a banner reading “No GMO” on the iconic Estela de Luz tower in protest, according to a Greenpeace spokeswoman.

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Dumping on Mexico

December 15, 2009

New York Times, 12/15/09

When American companies cannot compete against imports they believe are being “dumped” at below-market prices, they are quick to demand remedies from Washington, usually in the form of punitive tariffs. These days, the alleged culprit is often China.

But try looking at things from south of the border and the picture shifts. There, the culprit is just as likely to be the United States, particularly when it comes to agriculture.

A new paper from Timothy A. Wise at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts concludes that America’s generous subsidies allow farmers to sell their products to Mexico at below-market prices. The cost to Mexican farmers, he estimates, was $12.8 billion from 1997 to 2005. Corn farmers fared worst; American subsidies cost them $6.6 billion.

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