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Time is on my side, yes it is!

28 December 2014

Sylvia Ribera in La Jornada (translation by Jane Brundage for Mexico Voices):

Another year is ending in which the struggles of the peoples of corn, in various ways, continue to impede the release of genetically modified [GM] corn in Mexico, its center of origin. It is an issue of global importance and a breath of fresh air in the face of such disaster that the country is living through, with a State that massacres daughters and sons, young people, peasants, indigenous people.

dia1In its final report delivered in November of 2014, the international jury of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (TPP) called for banning GM corn in Mexico, in order to contain the contamination and violation of the rights of the peoples who created the corn. It appealed to several UN agencies, such as the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] and the Convention on Biological Diversity, to fulfill their global obligation to protect the center of origin of maize [corn] ( It supported the legal measure that suspended the planting of GM corn in response to the collective action filed by 53 individuals and 20 organizations, and that still stands, despite the concerted attack by multinationals and the government.

Corn is one of the three main staple food grains across the planet, and it is the greatest agricultural feat that humanity has inherited. The foods we eat were not originally as we know them today. All the seeds cultivated in the world are the result of collective care, of the mutual breeding that indigenous and peasant communities have been doing for centuries, converting the seeds into the heritage of the peoples in the service of humanity, as reviewed in La Via Campesina [The Peasant Way]. From the teocintle, which is almost a grass, Mesoamerican communities created a plant with ears that presents an enormous variety of colors, sizes, flavors, properties, and that grows from the hotlands at sea level up into the cold mountains at altitudes of 3,000 meters [9,800 feet]. When the conquistadores arrived, corn was grown from Canada to Tierra del Fuego. Corn is a humanized plant: it neither exists nor multiplies without the action of human beings. But its pollen is spread on the wind and by insects and birds. Corn marries with other corn varieties, and those [hybrids] with still others, moving, brightening both themselves and us, coming back to grow again thanks to peasant hands that take in the corn, feed it and from it feed themselves and feed us.

2661Genetically modified corns violate all this. They are hybrids developed in the laboratory, to which genes are introduced from species that would never interbreed in nature, only to serve the great, standardized industrial production, with heavy machinery, using great quantities of pesticides. They are not in order to increase production, since the crop yields are equal to or less than already existing corn hybrids, but like all the genetically modified organisms [GMO’s], they are a tool for corporate control. These GMO’s and seeds are patented by a few transnational companies who are aiming for total control of farmers and seeds. Once in the [open] field, GM contamination is not only inevitable, but it has serious consequences for corn farmers, the environment and health, but it is business for these companies.

Monsanto, DuPont-Pioneer, Syngenta, Dow, have about 95 percent of the global market for GM seeds. In turn, Monsanto and DuPont (through its subsidiary PHI Mexico) control 95 percent of the market for hybrid corn seed in Mexico. These powerful companies cannot believe that they have still failed to legalize the cultivation of GM corn in Mexico, especially when the official trend has been to deliver the nation’s wealth to the higher transnational bidder. The government authorized hundreds of thousands of hectares of GM cotton and soybeans and since September 2012, it wanted to authorize the commercial planting of GM corn. It came up against widespread resistance from the peoples, social movements and organizations, environmentalists, intellectuals, artists, scientist critics, consumers, both nationally and internationally, that blocked it.

Injunctions filed by organizations of beekeepers on the Yucatán Peninsula stopped the legal planting of GM soybeans, which threatens to end beekeeping and the peasants who make their living from it. In the case of corn, the popular resistance has been ongoing for more than a decade, managing to postpone experimental plantings for years and paralyzing commercial planting. In October 2013, a protective injunction decreed by Judge Jaime Manuel Marroquín ordered the suspension of authorizations for experimental and commercial plantings, before a class action lawsuit legally represented by Collective AC and Seeds of Life [Semillas de Vida].

imagesSince then, these companies, together with SAGARPA [Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food] and SEMARNAT [Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources], have presented 90 appeals in various courts, trying to reverse the suspension. All have failed. This case of the State working with multinationals against the public interest and for the transfer of ownership of one of the country’s vital assets, is one of the examples that the TPP used to demonstrate the diversion of power systematically engaged in by the Mexican State.

Corn is forever woven into the life of the peoples, and there is no time for ending the resistance to the dispossession. As the TPP wrote in its ruling, picking up on the testimony by Luis Hernández Navarro about the situation in Mexico:

“The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal Mexico Chapter, is simultaneously witness and midwife of a new reality. They, up there, have the timepiece. You and us, down here, we have the time.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. old.frt permalink
    28 December 2014 10:18 am


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