In a progressive move that will protect Mexico’s natural environment as well as its unique culinary traditions,a judge placed an indefinite ban on genetically engineered (GMO) corn this week. Mexico currently produces more than 20,000 different types of corn,which are grown in various regions throughout the country – the result of a long culinary history that can be traced back to maize,which is corn’s natural predecessor.
Maize initially grew wild and was first cultivated in Mexico by indigenous peoples as early as 10,000 years ago. The Mexican court cited “imminent harm to the environment” as the main reason for the ban,which takes effect immediately and expressly prohibits the planting or cultivation of any GMO corn within the nation’s borders.
“Tortillas are a way of life in Mexico,” writes PBS affiliate KCET in southern California. “This ban should come as no surprise to anyone who has eaten a corn tortilla in Mexico and experienced how seriously Mexico takes its prized whole grain staple.”
In fact,volumes could be written about the rich cultural tradition that was first established with maize and continues with countless varieties of the corn we know and love today. Throughout Mexico,it is still quite common for people to eat freshly made tortillas throughout the day at breakfast,lunch and/or dinner – and often even as part of dessert!
So,why are GMOs such a hot topic right now? Well,to begin with,there is a wealth of information about the fact that there is no official scientific consensus on whether they are safe to consume or for the environment – despite what certain agricultural giants and government regulatory bodies would have you believe. In fact,there is plenty of evidence to the contrary – take this statement issued this week by a group of more than 90 respected scientists from around the world for example:
“We feel compelled to issue this statement because the claimed consensus on GMO safety does not exist,” reads the statement,which was issued by the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility. “Such claims may place human and environmental health at undue risk.”
Interestingly,this ban on GMOs is but one of many environmental initiatives that are taking place in Mexico today. For example,this summer Reuters reported that Mexico was awarded $2.5 billion for new wind farms from the San Diego-based Cannon Power Group. In addition,Mexico actively works to further eco-tourism initiatives throughout its most popular vacation destinations,and has completed a number of new building and real estate projects that are taking sustainability to a new level.
Still,the recent ban on GMOs in Mexico is one of the largest victories for the nation from both an environmental and cultural preservation perspective. As part of the ruling,the judge ordered Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture and SEMARNAT (which functions similarly to the EPA in the U.S.) to “suspend all activities involving the planting of transgenic corn in the country and end the granting of permission for experimental plantings,” writes Environmental Food and Justice.
What are your thoughts about GMO labeling and the effects it may have on the environment and our food supply?