UN Expert Calls For Transgenic Corn Ban
Latinamerica Press, 30 June 2011
*Special rapporteur urges country to resume prohibition of genetically-modified version of key crop in both experimental and commercial stages.
A United Nations food expert urged the Mexican government to resume a moratorium on genetically-modified varieties of corn.
Following a visit to Mexico, Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, on June 21 said the introduction of genetically-modified varieties of the country's staple crop would threaten Mexico's crop diversity, which he called "a crucial asset in the face of future threats and unpredictable changes brought about by climate change" and necessary in fighting hunger.
In 2009, Mexico revised its biosafety legislation, lifting a decade-old ban on genetically-modified corn, sparking an outcry from environmentalists, human rights activists, and small-scale farmers who said the move favored the big agribusiness and put their native varieties that have fed the population for thousands of years, at risk.
Earlier this year, the state legislatures of Michoacan and Tlaxcala banned genetically-modified corn from being planted, either commercially or in trials.
"In the long term, the continuous improvement of landraces by farmers' practices of saving, re-sowing and exchanging seeds best suited to specific environments is crucial to effective protection against the unpredictable," said De Schutter, after visiting with Mexican government officials.
He added that poor farmers would become gradually dependent on seeds protected by intellectual property rights and that they would be reliant on a product out of their economic reach.
Mexico's current farm policy that favors large-scale producers and the wealthiest states, showing an "unacceptable bias in a country that has 80 percent of its farmers with less than 5 hectares [12.4 acres]," he said. "Agricultural programs is an area in which large improvements should be made."