3 years in, still fighting on
By Katherine Zavala, Thousand Currents Regional Director, Latin America
On July 5th, 2013 in Mexico City, researchers, peasant farmers, artists, representatives of civil organizations, beekeepers, human rights activists, and environmentalists collectively filed a class action lawsuit against the Mexican Ministries of Agriculture and Environment and five transnational agri-business corporations. Their purpose?
- Protect indigenous varieties of maize in the country of the crop’s origin.
- Protect Mexican peasant farmers and their families who rely on the right to the sustainable, fair, and equitable conservation and sharing of Mexico’s biological diversity.
- Protect the health of each and every Mexican since maize and its derivatives are the main ingredients in processed foods, beverages, and other consumer products.
A team of lawyers with la Demanda Colectiva Maíz, or the Collective Action of Maize, carried out actions in 17 federal courts to enable maize consumers in Mexico to make claims that the planting of GMOs be reviewed for its affects to people’s rights to biodiversity and more. A “win” came on March 8th, 2016, when a federal judge, Benjamin Soto Sánchez ruled on appeal to suspend the issuing of permits for planting or release of genetically-modified corn for commercial use, until this case was resolved.
The claims and appeals are unending, however. Over the last three years, the Collective has responded to 102 complicated challenges to their case, much of the time on a repeal process that requires them to respond to motions within 24 hours! Up against big ag, there are hurdles that block the case’s progress at every turn.
But our partners are unrelenting.
On the Collective’s 3rd anniversary, their bulletin reiterated the Mexico “joins the global rejection of GMOs,” citing evidence of lower yields from GM crops available, potential damage to human health, and losses to biodiversity. It says:
Today we celebrate with joy and excitement this anniversary, although we know that there is still much to do to banish this danger to Mexican rural farmlands, and to further prevent plundering of the wealth that [Mexican] indigenous and peasants farming communities give to the world.
The Mexico Maize Solidarity Collaborative Fund was created to support the efforts of the Collective and indigenous-led organizations in Mexico. The Fund will focus on defending maize through:
- providing legal support in the Collective’s pending court case;
- supporting public awareness campaigns about the dangers of genetically-modified maize in Mexico; and
- supporting indigenous knowledge in cultivating local maize such as and agroecological practices and seed keeping.
Act now! You can help defend maize in Mexico, and for us all!
- Send a message of solidarity – use the comments box below to share your support!
- Learn more – download more background reading about the history and current status of defense of maize in Mexico.
- Sign a global petition to halt large-scale planting of GMO corn in Mexico on the website of La Unión de Científicos Comprometidos con la Sociedad (The Union of Scientists Committed to Society).
- Let your friends and family know what’s happening in Mexico using the share buttons below.