Anti-GMO activists celebrated a victory after Mexico’s Supreme Court stopped a move that would permit the cultivation of GM soy in Campeche and Yucatán. In a separate ruling, the group celebrated another victory after a federal judge upheld a 2013 ruling that obstructed Monsanto, along with other biotech companies, from growing GM corn within the country’s borders.
The victory was upheld as a double whammy against Monsanto, according to a celebratory Facebook post by the sustainable food advocacy organization GMO Free USA. The ruling upheld an injunction filed by Maya beekeepers on the Yucatán peninsula, where honey collection and storage is the main industry.
“The decision suspends a permit granted to the agrichemical firm Monsanto to farm genetically modified soybeans on over 250,000 hectares in the region and instructs a federal agency it must first consult with indigenous communities before granting any future permits for transgenic soy farming,” the report said.
According to the court’s decision, “The opinion of indigenous communities should be taken into consideration when their way of living and culture could be at risk because of a new project or development.”
GMOs disrupt honey production and cause deforestation
Environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, Indignación and Litiga OLE claimed that planting GM soybeans in the region would put honey production at risk for several farm families because of the herbicide glyphosate, which was deemed probably carcinogenic by the World Health Organization (WHO). They also argued that GM soy production would cause deforestation.
Monsanto gave a response to the decision, claiming glyphosate had no adverse impact on bees or the forest:
“We do not accept accusations that put us as responsible for deforestation and illegal logging in the municipality of Hopelchén, Campeche, or any place of the Republic, because our work is rigidly attached to the guidelines provided by law,” Monsanto said in a statement.
As regards GM corn, Sustainable Pulse reported that federal judge Benjamin Soto Sánchez, head of the second Unitarian Court in Civil and Administrative Matters of the First Circuit, “upheld a provisional suspension prohibiting pertinent federal agencies from processing and granting the privilege of sowing or releasing into the environment transgenic maize in the country.”
The decision was made despite over 100 complaints made by transnational agribusiness interests and the federal government, according to Sustainable Pulse.
“Fewer than 30 percent of Mexican farmers even use conventional hybrid maize — high-yielding, single-use seeds, which need to be purchased every year,” and prefer “to stick with seeds they can save year to year, often varieties of the native ‘landraces’ of maize the injunction is intended to protect,” according to Al Jazeera. Nevertheless, the biotech giant “has the Mexican market for yellow maize seeds; 90 percent of U.S. maize is in GM seeds, and that is the source for Mexico’s imports of yellow maize.”
Banned, permitted, then banned again
Mexico originally banned GMOs in September 2013; the ban, however, was overturned in August 2015. This enabled more business opportunities for Monsanto. The biotech giant said they planned to double their sales in the country in the next five years.
Fortunately, the recent court ruling stopped Monsanto’s plans dead in its tracks. The anti-GMO community has flourished in the country. Lawyer Bernardo Bátiz, advisor to the lead plaintiffs’ organization, Demanda Colectiva, highlighted the importance of the two cases.
He said that Mexico is “a country of great biological, cultural, agricultural diversity and [therefore the courts should consider the impact of] planting GMO corn, soybeans or other crops.”
“In a country like ours, among other negative effects that would result, is that Mexican honey would be difficult to keep organic,” he added.