Maize, a staple in the Mexican diet, has been cultivated there for hundreds of years. This important crop has been threatened by the introduction and cross-pollination of transgenic or genetically engineered corn.
But a group of scientists have succeeded in standing in Monsanto’s plan to expand the territory for its GE corn.
On March 8th, Judge Benjamin Soto Sanchez, head of the second Unitarian Court in Civil and Administrative Matters of the First Circuit, notified the Mexican Agriculture Department via an appeal ruling that they were not allowed to grant release or cultivation permissions for transgenic maize until the collective trial by scientists, specialists and farmers is resolved.
Last August, a resolution denied the permanent ban on the cultivation of GE maize. But the immediate appeal of that and this new resolution, which was brought by the Maize Collectivity (Colectividad del Maíz), keeps the ban in place.
Since July 2013, scientists have denounced Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer-Dupont and Dow, as well as Sagarpa and Semarnat.
Soto Sanchez’s sentence establishes that the collective trial showed the illegal presence of transgenes in native maize crops. This allowed the scientists to claim a demonstrated violation of Mexican and international law. Because of this, the appeal sentence bans the granting of permissions for commercial cultivation of transgenic maize.
But this ruling doled out a 2nd victory to these scientists. Any experimental crops that were sown would be subject to control and a monthly assessment by the federal judge and the scientists winning this legal battle.
Permissions for experimental cultivation of GE maize were granted in 2009 but no regular assessments were made.This new ruling means that monthly assessments of containment measures will now take place. Also the judge now has power to revoke these permissions outright. Also transgenic maize cultivated for research purposes and the use of glyphosate-based herbicides will be assessed by judges and the plaintiff scientists.
So although this issue isn’t yet put to bed, this is a two-fold victory to celebrate. And the winners are Mexican and likely American consumers.