Trump’s Nafta Threats Push Mexico to Play Catchup on Innovation

5/4/2017 Bloomberg

innovationMexico doesn’t have enough people like Juan Pablo Senosiain, and U.S. President Donald Trump might just be the person to help change that.

Senosiain is an innovator who helped build his family’s laboratory into one of the top five retail prescription drug companies founded in Mexico, with close to 30 patents at home and 50 abroad.

Trump’s threats to quit the North American Free Trade Agreement are giving Mexico an incentive to build more businesses like Senosiain’s that create value through research and design, as it reassesses its dependence on low-wage manufacturing.

Mexico’s leaders are trying to do more to sponsor research to stimulate development of intellectual property that can help businesses develop products the world wants. The government in April said it would match 30 percent of new and expanded research and development investments in Mexico and is seeking 375 technology projects to help fund.

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Mexican Congress approves use of medical marijuana

4/28/2017 Reuters

marijuana leafMexico’s Lower House of Congress passed a bill on Friday to legalize the use of marijuana and cannabis for medical and scientific needs, a step closer to outright legalization in a country long scarred by warring drug cartels.

The bill sailed through the Senate in December and will now be sent to President Enrique Pena Nieto, who is expected to sign it.

“The ruling eliminates the prohibition and criminalization of acts related to the medicinal use of marijuana and its scientific research, and those relating to the production and distribution of the plant for these purposes,” the Lower House said in a statement on its website.

The measure passed in a general floor vote with 371 in favor, seven against and 11 abstentions, and now classifies the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as “therapeutic.”

Speaking in April 2016 at a special session where world leaders gathered to rethink global strategy in the war on drugs for the first time in two decades, Pena Nieto said drug use should be addressed as a “public health problem” and users should not be criminalized.

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Only Captivity Will Save the Vaquita, Experts Say

4/27/2017 New York Times

Flip Nicklin/Minden Pictures

 

TIJUANA, Mexico — It was not the first time Robert L. Brownell Jr. had seen a dead vaquita, the rare and endangered porpoise that was lying on the stainless-steel necropsy table inside the Tijuana Zoo on Monday. But it might well be one of the last.

Mr. Brownell, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, had in effect discovered the porpoise, finding the first full, dead specimen in 1966. The world’s smallest member of the cetacean grouping, which includes whales and dolphins, the vaquita was the most recent cetacean to be recognized by modern science.

Now it may well become the latest to go extinct.

A high-level, bilateral panel of Mexican and American scientists met this week and is expected to announce that it believes efforts to save the animal have, essentially, failed. That announcement would mean that the only hope for the vaquita’s recovery would be to capture the surviving animals, if any can be found. Some of the scientists involved think the surviving vaquitas now number as few as two or three, and the latest two vaquitas found dead could even be the last ones — though it could take years to confirm that.

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Two-thirds of people in Mexico, Chile and Ecuador are obese, UN finds

4/25/2017 The Guardian

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Flickr/Ruben Balderas

More than two-thirds of people living in Mexico, Chile and Ecuador are overweight or obese, costing their economies tens of billions of dollars every year, driving rates of disease and straining health services, according to a new UN report.

While the number of hungry people in Latin America and the Caribbean has halved in the past 25 years, the region is now struggling to combat an obesity epidemic.

Changing diets, including more processed food that are high in salt, sugar and fat, along with more sedentary lifestyles have triggered a rising tide of obesity, experts say.

“The implications for the future of countries are frightening … undernutrition is declining, but overnutrition is expected to become the largest social and economic burden in the region,” the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said in a statement.

The report by the WFP and the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said over the next six decades people being overweight and obese would cost Mexico an estimated $13bn a year, Ecuador $3bn and Chile $1bn.

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In Mexico, Fears a New Plant Will Kill Wastewater Farming

4/24/2017 New York Times

sewerTEPATEPEC, Mexico — For more than 100 years, most of what gets flushed down Mexico City’s toilets has resurfaced two hours to the north in the rivers and reservoirs of the rural Mezquital Valley. A massive new water treatment plant is about to change this.

But rather than welcoming the prospect of cleaner water, angry farmers are demanding the government honor an 1895 presidential decree granting them the right to the capital’s untreated sewage, which they see as fertilizer-rich, if foul, irrigation water.

It’s a standoff that pits public health concerns — not just for valley residents but for the Mexicans elsewhere who eat the crops — against fears that family farms will go under if they lose access to the raw sewage after the $530 million Atotonilco plant in Hidalgo state, billed as the largest of its kind in Latin America, goes online.

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Teva looks to resume some production at Rimsa plant in Mexico

4/25/2017 Reuters

pharmaceuticalTeva Pharmaceutical Industries hopes to resume some production at its newly purchased Mexican plant in the coming months, but an overhaul needed to bring the factory up to speed will take a few years, the company said on Tuesday.

Teva, the world’s largest generic drugmaker, bought the Rimsa plant in 2016 in a $2.3 billion deal, only to shut it down immediately, saying the operation was overrun by improprieties. Rimsa’s previous owners, the Espinosa family, deny this, and the two sides are locked in a legal battle.

The prospect of starting production, albeit limited, is welcome news for Teva after a string of costly acquisitions, and delayed drug launches. These have sent Teva shares plummeting and led to calls for management and structural changes. CEO Erez Vigodman stepped down in February.

 

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Radioactive material stolen in Mexico, search on: officials

4/24/2017 Reuters

HAZMAT_Class_7_RadioactiveAn unknown amount of stolen radioactive material has prompted an alert in nine Mexican states, the head of national emergency services said on Monday.

The alert and search for the stolen material covers the states of Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Michoacan San Luis Potosi, Durango and Zacatecas, according to a post on Luis Felipe Puente’s Twitter account.

Puente encouraged people with information about the stolen material to report it but added: “don’t open it.”

Stolen or lost radioactive material has on several occasions been reported in Mexico, most recently early last year when a container of radioactive substance used for industrial X-rays, a method of non-destructive testing, was taken along with a car.

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