GMO corn debate in Mexico dominated by biodiversity concerns

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

Corn is Mexico’s principle staple; the average citizen consumes roughly a pound of it a day. Yet to hear many of the country’s top chefs (along with many scientists, farmers, and environmentalists) tell it, the crop is under dire threat.

In August, a Mexican federal district judge repealed a two-year-old ban on genetically modified maize, ruling that those who supported it had failed to show that the planting of transgenic seeds caused harm. For GMO opponents, who quickly lodged an appeal that halted implementation of the measure, the decision represents an attack not just on the country’s most important crop, but on the very essence of Mexican identity.

Biodiversity dominates the GMO discussion in Mexico. Corn, after all, is believed to have first been domesticated there. Landrace maize — those varieties that, through natural cross-pollination, have evolved to be perfectly suited to their environment—is at its most diverse in Mexico, and biotech crops, opponents argue, threatens those native breeds.

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Elena Alvarez-Buylla, a biologist at the Autonomous National University of Mexico, and coordinator for the Union of Scientists for Social Commitment, an anti-GMO organization says GMO corn “will cross-pollinate with native varieties and accumulate in their gene makeup. It will cause the destruction of landrace maizes that farmers have protected for centuries.”

At a recent international chefs’ conference in Mexico City, there was near unanimous opposition to the introduction of transgenic corn. And for Dante Ferrero, chef of Alodé in Monterrey, Mexico, it too comes down to protecting biodiversity. “There are 58 different varieties of maize in Mexico. That’s 58 different flavors, which is something that we as chefs of course care about.”

Read full, original post: Mexico’s Chefs Are Fighting a Future of Genetically Modified Corn

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