Territories free from GMO! Demand Yucatán Peninsula’s Mayas

Around 2 thousand representatives of Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo communities say no to GMOs

Mérida, Yucatán.-  With the message in Maya “MA OGM” (No to Genetically Modified Organisms in English) formed by the bodies of more than two thousand people in seven Mayan ceremonial centers and a field of the Yucatan Peninsula, beekeeper communities, organizations and firms that form the group Sin transgénicos (1) demanded municipal and state authorities of Campeche, Yucatán y Quintana Roo as well as federal authorities, to declare their territories “GM-free”, giving the risks that these crops represent for the environment, beekeeping, biodiversity and human health(2).

 Ake, Mayapán, Kabáh, Oxkintoc, Izimal, Kulubá, Dzibilchaltún, Ek Balam y Chichén Itzá, in the state of Yucatán and Xtampak de Hopelchén in the state of Campeche., were the places chosen to send a clear message of rejection against GM crops and demonstrate in favor of human health, water conservation, biodiversity, native seeds – a Mayan cultural legacy -; and beekeeping which helps to preserve tropical forests that characterize the Yucatan Peninsula at a worldwide scale.

 “This territory, these seeds and this way of working, we inherited them from our ancestors. It is our duty to protect it, to preserve it and not to hand it over commercial interests and to the unique criterion of business supplanting the interests of the community. The authorities of our State can and must demand from the Ministry of Agriculture (Sagarpa) the prohibition of every genetically engineered crop in our territory, in application of the article 90 of GMO Biosecurity Law (LBOGM) and the precautionary principle “, pointed out Federico Berrón,  representative of the firm Miel Integradora, S.A. de C.V.

 In 2011, the transnational company Monsanto obtained from the federal government, the authorization to sow 30 thousand hectares (3) of GE soybean, and at the end of this year, they already began to generate serious damage, among which lies the introduction of GE soybean pollen in honey, first source of incomes for the major part of Mayan families of this part of the country. This situation was detected by the markets in Europe, where this honey won’t be commercialized. Before that, the Mayan farmers, their organizations, allied with several foreign exporting companies, released a demand of protection to the federal court. Thanks to this, Mérida first district judge pronounced the suspension of the sowing permit as regards to the irreparable damages that this crop might cause to the environment. However, Monsanto requested once again, a 253,000 hectares sowing permit of GE soybean (MON-04032-6) for 2012 in five polygons located in the Yucatan Peninsula, Chiapas and Planicie Huasteca.

 Worldwide, Mexico is the 6th producer and 3rd exporter of honey. 40 percent of it is produced in the Peninsula and more than 90 percent of the annual production is exported to the European Union. Forty thousand beekeepers and their families rely on honey production. 15 thousand families produce more than 10 thousand tons of honey, generating an economic income greater than 300 million pesos every year. The decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the case C-442/09 (4) to prohibit honey selling that would contain pollen of non-authorized GE crops or to require the labeling when honey contains more than 0,9% of authorized GE crop pollen, also affects, economically, the beekeeping sector.

 “The risk induced by the authorization of GE soybean crops is high. Its negative impact for the beekeeping sector, without taking into account environmental externalities, would be 55 times more important than its global benefit, according to the costs/benefits study and economic impact report made by the experts of the Economy Faculty of the Autonomous University of Yucatan (UADY). As declared the Rural Development Ministries of Campeche and Yucatan, the global honey contribution to the economy is 3 times higher than what soybean production could bring insofar as there would not have to have any losses. In 2012, we will be able to promote sowing of Mexican soybean seeds (like the “Huasteca” developed by the INIFAP), which reach performances that are even better than the GE soybean soya sowed in 2011”, argued the EDUCE economist Miguel Ángel Munguía.

 University scientists and investigatory public centers, specialists in ecology, bee management and Mexican rural sustainable development, already called Sagarpa public servants to disapprove the recent GE soybean sowing request in compliance with the Biosecurity principle, since it is unavoidable that this type of sowing affects honey quality, the bee honey market as well as the health of native bees, of field workers and local inhabitants (5).

 The priority principle has also been recommended by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, in its specific report on Mexico at the beginning of 2012”, explained Xavier Moya García, director of the UN Development Program for the Yucatan Peninsula and Tabasco. “Therefore, the beekeepers and governments sowing suspension request of every king of GE crops is legitimated since the environmental, socio-economic and human damages could be not only serious but irreparable,” added the international civil servant.

 “GMOs that are planned to be cultivated in the Yucatan Peninsula are glyphosate-resistant crops. The glyphosate is an active ingredient in a lot of herbicides commercialized throughout the world, including the well-known FAENA ultra-herbicide, which is used to control weeds and as it is not selective, eliminates every kind of vegetation around the crops. Recent studies show that herbicides based on glyphosate can have damaging effects for human health and the environment. Human exposures to glyphosate have been related to several sanitary effects including effects on the reproduction system, cancers and neurological effects. The glyphosate interact with the chemistry and the biology of the soil, provoking a series of impacts including the reduction of plant nutrition and the increasing of their vulnerability to diseases. The glyphosate might also reach superficial and underground waters, where they can damage wildlife and possibly end in drinking water (6)”, declared Aleira Lara, coordinator of Greenpeace campaign on Sustainable Agricultures and GMOs.

 “ We ask our state and municipal representative to provide a favorable opinion and to request the federal authorities of the Multidisciplinary Committee on GMO Biosecurity (Cibiogem), of the National Committee for the Knowledge and the Use of Biodiversity (Conabio) and the Secretary of Agriculture, to release it publicly”, as requested by Rafael Canché, beekeeper from the municipality of Maxcanú, Yucatán.

 “We demand the application of the precautionary approach, not only in the Peninsula but all over Mexico. This approach – that appears in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development as well as in the Carthagena Protocol, signed and ratified by our country – establish that when there is a risk of grave or irreversible damage, the lack of absolute scientific certainty should not be used as a reason to postpone the adoption of efficient measures in relation to the costs to impede environmental degradation” underlined Canché.

 A mobilization that joins the fight against GMOs in other countries.

 In December 2011, 17 environmental association, beekeeping and farmers organizations (Danmarks Biavlerforening, Unione Nazionale Associazioni Apicoltori Italiani, Confédération Paysanne, among others) signed a petition to demand the European Commission not to sacrifice beekeeping for the profit of multinationals and not to renew GE maize (MON 810) sowing permits (7)  whose pollen was detected in honey production in Germany.  This year, thousand of Spanish and French farmers and breeders demonstrated in Seville, and other cities of Spain claiming “Bees yes, GMOs no!”(8).

 The Yucatan State Governor, Ivonne Ortega Pacheco expressed in a decree published in the Official Gazette of the State of Yucatan the decision of her government’s desire to establish measures to preserve human health, the environment, biological diversity, animal, plant and aquaculture health and request the issue of agreements to determine the State of Yucatan as GM-free. Now we are hoping for the governments of Campeche and Quintana Roo to make what is appropriated.

 The “Sin Transgénicos” group do not want that the preservation measure to remain in the paper and to make sure they will be implemented. Also that they will prepare the legal and technical tools that will be presented to the Multidisciplinary Committee on GMO Biosecurity (Cibiogem), of the National Committee for the Knowledge and the Use of Biodiversity (Conabio) and the Secretary of Agriculture in order to establish the whole territory as a GM-free zone.

 Now it is obvious that Mexican producers, academicians and environmentalists, supported by some of their state and municipal governments, are exercising their right to define the kind of development that is promoted in their region and to protect their health, their environment and their ways of life by requesting the Federal Government of Mexico, the declaration of the Yucatan Peninsula as a GM-free zone.

 Sources:

(1) The group Sin transgénicos in made up of the organizations whose logos are attached to the present press release as well as of others organizations which are working altogether to impede GM crop sowing with a view to avoid  environmental, economical and human health damages.

(2) by exposure to glyphosate, an active agent of the herbicide used in this type of crops.

(3) Permit number granted by Sagarpa and Semarnat  for the sowing of 30 thousand hectare of GE soybean form the firm Monsanto in the States of Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo. Folder number B00.04.03.02.01.-5076, from the 17th of June 2011.

(4) Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 6 September 2011 ; case No. C-442/9

http://curia.europa.eu/juris/liste.jsf?language=es&jur=C,T,F&num=C-442/09&td=ALL (Information taken the 24th of February 2012 at 12.08pm).

(5) Petition of non-approval of the GE soybean sowing of the Union of the Scientists Comprised with the Society. http://www.uccs.mx/doc/g/miel-y-transgenicos_es. (Information taken the 7th of May 2012 at 20:50).

(6) Greenpeace report on the impacts of the glyphosate:
www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/publications/agriculture/2011/363%20-%20GlyphoReportDEF-LR.pdf (Information taken the 18/04/2012 at 10:00).

(7) http://www.ogm-abeille.org/?lang=en ( Information taken the 08/05/2012, at 16:06).

(8) http://www.greenpeace.org/espana/es/Blog/abejas-s-transgnicosno/blog/39208/( Information taken the 08/05/2012, at 16:00).

 

For more information, please contact: Angélica Simón (Greenpeace México) at 55  40 84 53 20, at the e-mail  asimon@greenpeace.org or in the web page www.greenpeace.org.mx.

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