GMO news related to Mexico

04.10.2018 |

Mexico’s new science minister is a plant biologist who opposes transgenic crops

MEXICO CITY—In early June, evolutionary developmental biologist Elena Álvarez-Buylla received an out-of-the-blue phone call from the campaign of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, then the front-runner in Mexico's presidential election, with a question. If López Obrador won, would she consider becoming the next director of the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt), the country's science ministry and primary granting agency? "My first reaction was to say, ‘I can't,’" recalls Álvarez-Buylla, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) here. "I have a great passion for scientific research," and she couldn't imagine leaving the laboratory.

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Álvarez-Buylla led a team that confirmed the results of the 2001 study and has continued to hunt for transgenic DNA and any possible effects in Mexican landraces, work that helped her win Mexico's National Science Prize in 2017. She says she has nothing against genetic engineering in itself; her team creates and studies GM plants in the lab, and such experiments should not be prohibited or restricted, she says. "I'm not a Luddite who is scared of technology." But her own experiments have shown introduced genes can have unpredictable effects. "If a transgene is inserted in one part of [a plant's] genome, it can be silenced and have no effect. If it's inserted in another part, it can lead to a tremendous change," she says. That unpredictability makes it too risky to allow GM maize anywhere near Mexico's landraces, she argues. Planting GM maize in Mexico has been prohibited since 2013, pending the outcome of a lawsuit. Álvarez-Buylla has been an outspoken proponent of a permanent ban.

30.06.2018 |

Yucatán and its fight against transgenics

Since many rural communities in Yucatán depend on the cultivation and harvesting of corn, honey and other basic products, different organizations conformed by Maya speaking people that defend the Human Rights of Indigenous People, Environmental Associations and Yucatecan businessmen got together to form the Ma GMO collective.

A triumph for the people

The fight gave its first fruits in 2014, when the opponents of Monsanto, arguing violations of their right to have a healthy environment, filed and obtained legal protections before federal judges.

In this regard, it is important to point out the support of the Government of the State of Yucatan, who listened to the people’s concerns, and not only supported their communities, but also sent these proposals to the Federal Government and strongly fought for their approval.

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In the case of Yucatan, the beekeeping activity and the planting of corn is a standard of the economy, and becoming a GM free zone is an achievement of the last two state government administrations, of several associations and of course, of society, that should serve as an example for other Mexican states.

28.06.2018 |

Victory!!! Monsanto and Bayer Defeated in Mexico as Anti-Trust Agency Orders End to Monopolistic Seed Practices

The Monsanto-Bayer merger came to light with a ton of controversy, but now, it appears to have slipped the radar screen as the two companies quietly merge into a monstrous entity that could control more than a quarter of the world’s pesticides and seeds market.

The two companies were able to receive anti-trust approval in the United States despite petitions and objections toward their allegedly monopolistic practices, infuriating many activists who had fought for more regulations or a halt to the merger.

But meanwhile in Mexico, the historic pesticide and GMO alliance has just been dealt a monumental blow, as the country’s anti-trust agency has just ordered Monsanto and Bayer to disinvest in two of their biggest GMO business interests.

Monsanto, Bayer Dealt Huge Blow in Mexico

According to this article from the website Reuters, Monsanto and Bayer have been ordered to disinvest in their GMO cotton seed business and all of their vegetable seed businesses.

14.03.2018 |

Monarch Butterfly Numbers Keep Declining

The annual count of Monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico shows declines from last year’s numbers—a 15 percent decrease –according to figures from an official Mexican government count in the winter of 2017. These numbers underscore how at risk the iconic animal is, with a possible collapse of migration if populations are critically low.

Monarch butterflies (also known as Eastern Monarchs) embark on an impressive migration every year. Roughly 99 percent of all North American monarchs migrate each winter to oyamel fir forests on 12 mountaintops in central Mexico. Scientists estimate the population size by measuring the area of trees turned orange by the clustering butterflies. But for the second year in a row, its numbers are declining — 2.48 hectares of occupied winter habitat is down from 2.91 hectares last winter. Apart from partial rebounds in the winters of 2001 and 2003, numbers have gone down steadily since 1996. Overall monarchs have declined by more than 80 percent over the past two decades.

05.02.2018 |

Yucatán takes a stand against GMOs

CHACSINKÍN, Yuc. (EL UNIVERSAL) .- After the authorization of the planting of transgenic crops in Yucatan and Campeche in 2011 a judicial struggle started in which producers and civil organizations have warned that they will not allow any GMOs to be grown in their lands, as they assure these will be harmful to the population and the environment in the long term.

The “Guardians of the Seeds” (Guardianes de las Semillas), a fusion of civil organizations and local producers pointed out that they will continue in their fight so that the sowing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is not authorized, and totally forbbiden, even at an experimental level.

In order to address the demanded measures against GMOs and protect the production of honey, of which Yucatan is national leader, decree 418 was issued the in 2016, prohibiting GMOs in the state. Nevertheless, the highest court by the Presidency of the Republic, argued that the State Executive is not authorized to prohibit the crops, as the Biosecurity is responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food: SAGARPA (Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación).

21.12.2016 |

Mexican Beekeepers Win Case Against Monsanto

Judge ruled that co-existence between GM soybeans and honey production is not possible.

Countries all around the world are banning GM foods and products, the pesticides used to grow them, or placing severe restrictions on their use. In fact, people all over the world are organizing mass demonstrations, and resisting the biotech companies who develop these GMOs and pesticides, in particular Monsanto. More and more studies are making international headlines showing the health and environmental dangers associated with pesticides and GMOs.

Mexiko bans genetically modified soybeans

Now Mexico is making headlines by banning Monsanto products. A group of beekeepers was successful in banning Monsanto from planting genetically modified soybeans. Originally Monsanto had received permission to plant their GM seeds in a large area of land, despite the protests organized by thousands of beekeepers, citizens, major environmental groups, the National Institute of Ecology, and Mayan farmers. But a district judge overturned the Monsanto permit as he was convinced by the scientific evidence showing the threats GM crops had on honey production in the Yucatan peninsula. He went even further, and ruled that co-existence between GM soybeans and honey production is not possible.

19.12.2016 |

Four Steps Forward, One Leap Back on Global Governance of Synthetic Biology

UN Biodiversity Convention grapples with threats posed by extreme biotech industry

CANCUN, MEXICO — This week, 196 countries meeting at the 2016 UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) Conference of the Parties made progress on the global governance and oversight of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology (syn bio) has become one of the most fiercely debated topics at the Biodiversity Convention, almost 7 years after civil society first brought the need for precaution and regulation of the new set of biotechnologies to this UN body.

During the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the CBD, countries agreed to investigate how digital genetic sequences may be used to commit biopiracy and warned against a risky new genetic extinction technology called gene drives. They also agreed on a working definition of synthetic biology (2) and to support an ongoing expert group to move forward international discussions on the topic. However, this progress was undermined by a significant ‘move backwards’ in safety oversight and risk assessment when a key standing expert group expected to issue risk assessment guidelines for synthetic biology was dissolved.

“Syn bio was among the hottest topics on the negotiating table,” explains Jim Thomas of ETC Group, who sits on the CBD’s expert group on Synthetic Biology. “Governments now get it: they need to urgently grapple with how synthetic biology and other fast moving, risky technologies are threatening biodiversity, local economies and the rights of farmers and Indigenous Peoples.”

19.12.2016 |

Biodiversity Convention Adopts Plan for Benefit Sharing for Genetic Sequences

Austin, Texas, 19 December (Edward Hammond) – Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have adopted a decision on sequence information of genetic resources that sets in motion a plan intended to lead to an important decision at their next meeting in two years’ time.

The decision was adopted by the 22nd meeting of the CBD Conference of the Parties Cancun (COP), Mexico, which ended on Saturday, 17 December.

The plan is a compromise that emerged after developing countries, concerned that the proliferation of sequences and other genetic information in the internet “cloud” is promoting biopiracy, proposed that the Cancun meeting adopt a decision clarifying that sequence information should be treated equivalently to physical biodiversity samples for the purposes of benefit sharing.

Under pressure, developed countries’ negotiators acknowledged that gene sequences “are an issue to be dealt with.” The European Union, Australia, and others insisted, however, that they were unprepared to negotiate in Cancun because they had not anticipated that the issue would arise. This reason was offered despite a preliminary exchange on the subject at a meeting of the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Science, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) in May of this year, and gene sequences appearing in bracketed text in the Convention’s draft decision on synthetic biology.

16.12.2016 |

UN Convention still says “No” to manipulating the climate

UN Convention on Biological Diversity reaffirms its moratorium on climate-related geoengineering

CANCUN, MEXICO – The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which gathered at its 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) in Mexico from December 4-17, decided to reaffirm its landmark moratorium on climate-related geoengineering that it first agreed to in 2010.

Geoengineering refers to a set of proposed techniques that would intervene in and alter earth systems on a large scale – recently, these proposals have been gaining traction as a “technofix” solution to climate change. Examples include solar radiation management techniques such as blasting sulphate particles into the atmosphere as well as other earth systems interventions grouped under a second broad umbrella of ‘carbon dioxide removal.’

The reaffirmation of the CBD moratorium is even more relevant in the light of the Paris Agreement on climate change, in which governments agreed to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Geoengineers quickly interpreted the Paris Agreement as allowing or encouraging geoengineering to meet that ambitious goal.

13.12.2016 |

Greater regulation needed on synthetic biology at the COP 13

Friends of the Earth International and allies call for greater regulation on synthetic biology at the COP 13

Mariann Bassey Orovwuje (Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria) and member of the Friends of the Earth International delegation at the thirteenth Convention of the Parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 13) in Cancun, Mexico, presented a statement on behalf of the Civil Society Working Group on Synthetic Biology during a plenary session, asking for more regulation on synthetic biology, 6 December 2016

Mariann warned the COP13,

"Gene drives have quickly emerged as an extremely high risk synthetic biology application since the last COP and should therefore be placed under a moratorium”.

This was part of a request from 168 organizations worldwide, including Friends of the Earth International, who signed a “Common call for a global moratorium on gene drives”. The signatories want the moratorium to be effective on any further technical development and experimental application of gene drives and on their environmental release.

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