MEXICO CITY - Mexico this week barred Monsanto Co. and other biotechnology companies from planting genetically engineered corn, rekindling fierce debate in that country over the technology.
Environmentalists said the government's decision will help prevent biotech corn from contaminating native varieties in Mexico, the birthplace of corn and still a storehouse of genetically valuable native species.
But as expected
This is temporary, because there is so much pressure from the multinationals," said Gustavo Ampugnani of Greenpeace Mexico
We were surprised by this decision," said Eduardo Perez Pico, director of technological development at Monsanto's Mexico subsidiary, which had applied to start experimental fields in the northern states of Sinaloa, Sonora, and Tamaulipas.
"These are not centers of origin or biodiversity of corn," Perez Pico said, referring to the areas where corn ancestor plants or primitive varieties grow naturally.
Under current law, such areas are off-limits to biotech planting, in part to protect the genetic traits of those ancestor varieties in case their traits are needed for hybridization efforts in the future.
To put things in perspective
Farmers in Mexico first bred corn some 6,000 to 8,000 years ago. The country is home to at least 59 species of maize, from the protein-rich variety used to make tortilla chips to a softer grain mashed for use in tamales.
Introduction of genetically modified (GM ) corn can wipe off this biodiversity and make the farmers dependant on GM seeds and pesticide like Roundup . From the article , the debate is far from over , this ruling just points out to a bigger fight . Multinationals in the business of GM food are in for a long haul with opinions being changed and data being conditioned
A study in the Sierra de Juarez region in the southern state of Oaxaca found evidence of transgenic corn contamination in 2000 from corn that was apparently imported for food use. The study was published and then retracted by the science journal Nature.
Another study by Mexican and U.S. researchers in 2004 found no trace of genetically altered corn in crops in the same area four years later.
Read about Monsanto in a previous post here .