In Mexico's food sovereignty at risk

Food sovereignty is at risk in Mexico due to the increasing dependence on food imports. For the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), this situation is worrisome because of the volatility of international food prices.

Likewise, the FAO is concerned about farmers. About 70 percent of farmers have lower incomes than needed to subsist, 20 percent have great potential for growth but do not have the necessary aid, and 9 percent are the ones feeding the nation. Close to 40 percent of the farming production is provided by communities dedicated to family agriculture, many of whom apply agro-ecological practices to their corn and other crops.

Meanwhile, the environmental organization Greenpeace warned in July of the risk to food sovereignty in Mexico because of the market entry of transgenic corn.

Mexico is one of the eight worldwide “centers of origin” of corn, and it has 59 breeds and 200 adapted varieties of this grain. In 2009 the government reformed the legislation on biosecurity, lifting a decade-long moratorium on transgenic corn. Until Oct. 2012, 177 permits for experimental and pilot farming of transgenic corn were granted. These are the first stages of massively developing commercial agriculture.

Although the Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (SAGARPA), ensured it had not authorized the cultivation of transgenic corn in the country, SAGARPA Secretary Enrique Martínez y Martínez, specified that “[we] must act according to scientific opinion.”

“We need greater production and seeds that are more resistant to pests, drought, ice [seasons], but at the same time we have the obligation to conserve the status of genetic wealth of native crops and we are doing that, but up to date no authorization from SAGARPA has been given, and we will do it in accordance with total scientific opinion,” said Martínez y Martínez.

In regards to the Secretary of SAGARPA comments, Lara specified that “transgenic crops can contaminate native grains not only when they are mixed but also through indirect ways such as the presence of insects or the wind. [The mixing of transgenic and native crops] would create serious risk for the crops and human health.” This type of transgenic production, she adds, “requires enormous amounts of herbicides, putting human health and entire fields in immediate danger.”

Source | Latinamerica Press