Imports of Transgenic Corn or Food Sovereignty

Viridiana Lázaro Lembrino


[Translation] The presidential decree that marks the end of glyphosate and transgenic corn in México is a milestone and the first step to transform our agrifood system and should serve to promote the change of agricultural model; from an agroindustrialized one based on agrochemicals dependent on transnational companies such as Bayer-Monsanto, to an agroecological one that offers solutions to problems of soil fertility and local pests, allows diversifying crops, protecting biodiversity and the health of peasants and consumers.

Through soil regeneration and the use of techniques such as weed management or the implementation of bio-inputs promoted by agroecology, it is possible to have healthy soils, increase production yields, face the threats of climate change and offer nutritious food with low environmental impact to consumers.

Currently, in Mexico we are at a time of decisive changes, root changes that are touching very large economic interests and that is precisely why the federal government should not back down or give in to pressure from the United States. The elimination of glyphosate and GMOs is a worldwide trend, several countries have decided to put an end to the use of this herbicide, such is the case of Austria, several cities in the United States, Argentina, Canada, Scotland, Spain and New Zealand, among others. This is because glyphosate has carcinogenic potential as demonstrated by more than a thousand scientific studies reviewed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) to classify it as a probable human carcinogen. Transgenic corn has also been shown to have negative health effects; transgenic proteins can trigger allergic reactions in humans and certain molecules present in transgenic corn act as free radicals and promote oxidative stress, associated with various chronic and degenerative diseases, such as cancer and diabetes.

From the beginning, transnational companies that promote industrial agriculture have carried out actions against the decree, such as more than 26 injunction lawsuits against it or marketing campaigns taking into account only economic arguments that benefit a few.

In this context, U.S. senators have asked Mexico to reconsider the ban on GM corn imports, appealing to the free trade agreement (T-MEC), and due to this situation, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador held a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo a few days ago. But the negotiations do not end there as, that same week, the Secretary of Economy, Raquel Buenrostro, attended meetings to continue the T-MEC negotiations.

While Mexico is self-sufficient in white corn (hybrid and native), which is used in Mexican food, GM yellow corn is mainly used to supply agribusiness and livestock feed. Processed food industries cause serious health problems and overweight in the population.

It should be clear that Mexico is not banning imports of yellow corn to the United States per se, what is being sought is to prevent Mexicans from consuming GMOs; and Mexico has every right to protect the human rights of the population. In addition, U.S. farmers are capable of producing non-GMO corn at comparable prices, according to research by a U.S. producer network (spectrum Non-GMO), so the decree could encourage the development of a non-GMO market in the U.S. for non-GMO corn, something U.S. consumers have long been asking for.

The government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador must defend Mexico's food sovereignty, stand firm and not give in to pressure from the United States, and agribusiness corporations seeking to maintain the status quo from which only a few companies benefit.

Viridiana Lázaro Lembrino, Agriculture Campaigner for Greenpeace México