ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  25 November 2000


Information in Spanish on this interesting project can be found at:

[Excerpts from:]  Greenpeace and Mexico-based ANEC Launch New Project to End the Importation of U.S. Genetically Engineered Corn - by Anne Seymour and Susan Gzesh

Mexico - US Advocates Network - Network News - Volume 2, Issue 8, October 2000
[Full article in English at ]

..On October 21, 2000, Victor Suarez Carrera, an agronomist with the Mexico-based Asociación Nacional de Empresas Comercializador/es de Productores del Campo (ANEC) met with representatives of Chicago-based Mexican hometown associations (HTAs) at the office of Chicago Alderman Ricardo Muñoz, a progressive Mexican American elected official...

One of the topics at the October meeting was U.S. corn exports to Mexico and how they affect communities like the hometowns of Chicago-based Mexican immigrants.

A campaign was recently launched by ANEC and Greenpeace Mexico to stop the dumping of Genetically Engineered (GE) corn in Mexico, entitled “Tortillas de las buenas, tortillas de maíz mexicano, libres de transgénicos” (Good tortillas of Mexican corn, free from genetic modification).

Suarez provided an in-depth explanation of the problems with current U.S. agricultural policy including the impact it has on Mexican farmers attempting to compete on the world corn market, the potential health risks it causes for Mexicans whose major food source is corn, and the effects it could have on the future biodiversity of Mexican corn.

Policy Impact on Mexican and U.S. Farmers

The dumping of U.S. produced corn in Mexico is threatening traditional Mexican agriculture and causing economic hardship for small farmers in the country.  For this reason, it has become a direct cause of Mexico-U.S.  migration.

Because Mexican corn producers do not receive the same subsidies on corn production as U.S.  farmers, they are unable to compete with the importation of U.S. corn.  Current rural policy has left Mexican campesinos with few economic alternatives in their communities of origin and threatens to destroy Mexican family farms.

Because Mexican farmers are not able to generate sufficient income from corn production to provide for the basic needs of their families, they have been forced to look for employment opportunities elsewhere. This process pushed many displaced Mexican farmers to migrate to the United States in search of work - an important example of development policy as a root cause of the migration phenomenon.

This policy also carries serious cultural implications for Mexico. Corn is not just a means of survival in Mexico but has a long cultural history in the country dating back from its first cultivation over 7000 years ago.

Hundreds of local varieties, in colors from white to blue to yellow, exist in indigenous and campesino communities. Corn is the livelihood of many rural communities and, to these communities, means much more than the number of tons produced.

This flawed policy does not only affect Mexican corn producers but also has negative implication for U.S. corn farmers. Because government subsidies allow U.S. farmers to recover their costs despite having to sell corn at a price lower than the price of production, they have become completely dependent on the U.S. government.

According to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, subsidies in the United States have grown from 7.8 billion dollars to 28 billion dollars. U.S. corn farmers now receive 42 percent of their total income from subsidies.

Human Health and Environmental Concerns of Genetically Engineered Corn Advocates believe that a significant percentage of corn imported into Mexico is genetically engineered (GE) and not approved for human consumption in the United States. According to Greenpeace, the importation of this corn is threatening the biodiversity of Mexican corn and human health. The potential dangers to human health and Mexican indigenous corn also have been recognized in Mexico as growing of GE corn for human consumption is prohibited there. However, there are no requirements in Mexico for tortilla producers to mark products made with GE corn - leaving Mexican consumers without the option of choosing whether to eat GE corn or not.

The environmental and health implications of GE corn are unknown.  Therefore, its consumption should be prohibited until this issue can be further researched. It is important to assure that imported GE corn is not being used as seed corn. The impact of the GE corn on other organisms once it has entered the food chain - as animals raised on GE corn are consumed by humans or other animals - is unknown. There are also the unknown effects of accidental cross pollination with indigenous varieties of corn.  In Mexico there are hundreds of varieties of indigenous corn grown that could potentially be altered or destroyed through the spread of GE corn.

Policy Efforts

ANEC and Greenpeace recently launched a campaign to stop all imports of genetically engineered corn into Mexico. The campaign is entitled “Tortillas de las buenas, tortillas de maíz mexicano, libres de transgénicos” and includes a network of 450 tortillerías that have vowed to produce tortillas only from Mexican grown corn that is not genetically engineered. Because of concerns about the preservation of the genetic diversity of Mexican corn, the campaign also calls for corn to be produced in Mexico rather than imported from the United States and for the price of corn on the world market to be re-evaluated...


ngin bulletin archive