Mexico: judge suspends GM corn planting

Environmentalists want to ban all transgenic corn, which they say threatens both Mexico’s biodiversity and the ability of independent farmers to grow organic crops.

Mexican federal judge Jaime Eduardo Verdugo has issued an injunction ordering the Agriculture Secretariat (Sagarpa) and the Environment Secretariat (Semarnat) not to grant further licenses for the sowing of genetically modified (GM) corn, a group of environmental organizations announced recently.

Mexican law restricts the use of transgenic corn, but recently the government has greatly expanded the area where GM seeds can be sown in pilot projects by companies like the Monsanto Company, Pioneer, Syngenta AG and Dow AgroSciences.

Judge Verdugo cited “the risk of imminent harm to the environment” as the basis for the injunction, a temporary restraining order in response to a suit that scientists, farmers, activists and environmental groups filed on July 5 with the Twelfth Federal District Civil Court in Mexico City.

The Mexican branch of the international organization Greenpeace noted that the injunction is just “the first step for the definitive protection of biological diversity.”

According to attorney Romualdo Hernández Naranjo of the legal advocacy group Collective Actions AC, the real significance of the judge’s order is that the judicial branch has finally agreed to participate in the debate over the use of GM seeds in the country.

Until now the federal executive branch has acted on the issue with no oversight from other parts of the government.

The news of the Mexican injunction came just two days before activists held an international March Against Monsanto, the Missouri-based multinational that dominates the transgenic seed industry.

Protests were reportedly organized for Oct. 12 in more than 500 cities in as many as 57 countries, with about the same level of participation as on a similar day of action on May 25 2013.

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