Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hunger strike in Mexico to defend indigenous corn against Monsanto

Claire Gilbert and Saulo Araujo put up a post on Grassroots International - look at www.grassrootsonline.org for more information and to support the farmers - on the UNORCA (National Union of Autonomous Regional Peasant Organizations) hunger strike against the likely Mexican government adoption of Monsant's genetically modified corn (see below). GMO corn on an area the size of El Salvador - 6 million acres - will wreck indigenous farming of an amazing variety of corn, sustained against NAFTA, as Claire has shown previously, by immigrants to the United States returning some of their earnings to their families.

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The existence of this biodiversity, she has suggested, means an adaptability to climate change which dead, chemically "protected" (the environment poisoned by Roundup) GMO corn does not. There is a profound issue here of democratic food sovereignty threatened by this company (one of the big six "food" producers functioning in the US and multinationally - see Vandana Shiva, Stolen Harvest). This is an issue of cardinal importance.

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My previous post on this is here and you can listen to Claire's striking conversation with Felipe Luciano about these issues here, Wake Up Call January 11.

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Hunger Strike Aims to Stop GMO Corn in Mexico

January 23rd, 2013
By Claire Gilbert and Saulo Araujo

Regional leaders of Grassroots Internationals’ partner UNORCA (the National Union of Autonomous Regional Peasant Organizations) began a hunger strike today to call for a stop to the destruction of Mexican agriculture. The network of peasant and indigenous organizations in coalition with urban workers and student groups is calling for a halt of planting GMO crops in Mexico.

Today, UNORCA published an open letter (below) about the hunger strike expressing their outrage about “the terrible blow that would come with the imminent approval of large-scale commercial planting of GMO maize in Mexico, and we demand that the Mexican government place the interests of peasants and the majority of Mexican farmers above the interests of a few transnational corporations.”

The situation is urgent because three biotech giants have applied for permits to grow 6 million acres of GMO corn in the Northern Mexican states of Sinaloa and Tamilaupas. On September 7, 2012, Monsanto requested permission from the National Service of Food and Agriculture Inspection Office (SENASICA) to plant three GMO corn varieties (MON89034-3, MON88017-3 and MON-00603-6) in 1,729,737 acres in 10 municipalities of Sinaloa state. They hope to begin planting in the next two months to harvest the first commercial crop of GMO corn in Mexico this summer.

Mexico, the birthplace of corn, contains a broad biodiversity of corn varieties. If allowed to proceed, this will be the first commercial planting of a GMO crop at its center of origin anywhere in the world. The impacts of this decision are critical for the cultural and food sovereignty of Mexico’s small farmers, but also for the health of Mexico’s urban population.

Further, the introduction of GMO crops impacts all of us, because by destroying the diversity of one of the world’s most important crops, we could be left without thousands of varieties of corn, adapted to different conditions, that could help us to adapt to climate change.

“If the planting goes into effect in Mexico, the loss of biodiversity will not affect only Mexicans. Because corn as other crops belongs to humankind,” says Veronica Villa, representative of ETC Group in Mexico. ETC Group is a think tank dedicated “to address the socioeconomic and ecological issues surrounding new technologies that could have an impact on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

Grassroots International supports the Hunger Strike and awaits a public debate on February 7, 2012 at the Universidad Nacional in Mexico City. There, for the first time, representatives of the federal government have agreed to talk publically about and debate this issue.

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