MEXICO CITY - A small group of environmental activists dealt a huge blow to multinational chemical and seed corporations, giving hope to many who oppose their attempted takeover of the global food system.
On October 13, 2021, the Mexican Supreme Court rejected the appeals of Bayer-Monsanto and other international agricultural corporations to a 2013 injunction that restricts the cultivation and sale of genetically modified corn.
The injunction was submitted by Demanda Colectiva en Defensa del Maíz Nativo (Collective Lawsuit in Defense of Native Corn), a coalition of local Mexican farmers, consumers, and environmental advocates. They argued that cross-pollination, caused by genetically modified corn, would have extreme ramifications on varieties of corn indigenous to Mexico, threatening the livelihood of peasant farmers and violating the right to a clean and healthy environment guaranteed in Section 1 Article 4 of the Mexican Constitution.
The court sided with the collective and issued a ban on any planting of genetically modified corn until the case could be argued in full and a definitive decision could be made by the court; this still has not happened 8 years later. Over this long period of time the impacted conglomerates, which include Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, and Corteva, have repeatedly appealed to the ruling, but the injunction has stood in place. The Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss all appeals means that the injunction will remain until the case is heard by the court in its entirety, but a date has still not been set.
Demanda Colectiva en Defensa del Maíz Nativo released a statement celebrating the victory in court, but recognizing that it is temporary, and that there is still “a long way to go to achieve the definitive ban on transgenic corn in Mexico.”
Corn is the most common genetically modified crop, with over 90% of the corn grown in the United States being GM, but it is also a crop that has the utmost cultural significance to the people of Mexico, catapulting the case to a position of prominence, with many different groups interested in the outcome. Additionally, the case stemmed from a collective action lawsuit, a relatively new and untested approach within Mexican law. Combining that with the fact that this case could set some form of international precedent in terms of regulating genetically modified crops on a constitutional basis, there is no doubt that its outcome will affect multitudes of people, both locally and internationally, when it is finally heard by the court.
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“Constitución Reordenada y Consolidada - UNAM.” Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, 2015, https://www2.juridicas.unam.mx/constitu cion-reordenada-consolidada/en/vigente.
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Janowitz, Nathaniel. “Upstart Corn Activists in Mexico Just Beat GMO Goliath Bayer-Monsanto.” VICE, 13 Oct. 2021, https://www.vice.com/en/article/7kbzv4/m exico-rejected-appeals-for-gmo-cornbayer-monsanto.
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