Monsanto Pushes for GMO Corn Seeds in Mexico Despite 'Probably Carcinogenic' Herbicides
Amidst a local court ruling to rescind the ban on GMO corn in 2015, the fight between the large agribusinesses companies like Monsanto and some locals persists over the growing of genetically modified (GMO) corn in Mexico.
The Potential Influx of GMO Seeds in Mexico
Monsanto is currently the largest seed producer in the world today. It has a global sales amounting to $15 billion dollars, $400 million of which comes from its sales in Mexico. "Our intention is to be able to double the business from here to 2020," said Eduardo Perez, head of regulatory issues for Monsanto in Northern Latin America.
And, the company rationalized the selling of these genetically modified seeds in Mexico by saying that it could help the local farmers to significantly improve the yields of their crops. They also said that the use of these types of seeds could lead to the use of fewer pesticides.
"It's incredible that we are not giving [small farmers] the option to cross the poverty line," said Manuel Bravo, chief executive for Monsanto in Northern Latin America.
Some Local Groups Aren't Happy
Advocate groups and some of the Mexican chefs are expressing their disapproval. They said that the GMOs could pose a threat to 59 indigenous corn varieties in the country.
"If we allow all these varieties of corn to be lost, we'll lose part of our identity," said Chef Pancho Ibanez of the very popular Pujol restaurant in Mexico City. "It's as if we were cutting off our feet, cutting off the roots of a tree. It's something that could seem so simple, so basic but it's our past, present and future."
GMOs and the Effect on Health and the Environment
Michael Pollan, an author and food activist, emphasized the need for proper labeling of food containing GMOs and why these GMO crops have adverse effects on the environment. According to Pollan, these genetically engineered crops have not lived up to their promise of reducing pesticide use and increasing crop yields over the years of their existence and use as oppose to what some of the seed and chemical companies like Monsanto are claiming.
Apart from the lack of proof that these GMO crops, indeed, bring improvement in terms of yields, Pollan pointed out that the use of these GMO crops also paved way to the use of glyphosate. The said substance was listed by the World Health Organization as "probably carcinogenic to humans" that could increase the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.
"GMOs have been, I think, a tremendous disappointment," Pollan said. "They haven't done what Monsanto promised they would do, which is make American agriculture more sustainable."