Victory of the Mayan People: State of Yucatán, México, Forbids Transgenic Crops in Key Areas

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Source: La Jornada / The Dawn News / October 29, 2016

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Photo credit: Ecoosfera

The measure protects the local indigenous peasants, says the Official Newspaper of the Mexican state. Authorities will take up the task of promoting the planting of non-modified seeds, the report says.

Last Wednesday, the state of Yucatan, located in the homonymous peninsula, forbade GMO plantations in two specific areas. The state, which is governed by Rolando Zapata Bello (of the PRI party), is the first one in the peninsula to take that step.

One of the GMO-free areas is the border with the state of Campeche and the south of the state, which encompasses 10 municipalities, and the second one is the border with Quintana Roo, which is mostly a cow-breeding area.

According to information published in the Official Newspaper of Yucatán, there are many reasons why the GMO-free areas were created, but the most important one is the risk they pose for the health of human beings.

This includes the links between GMOs and cancer, the contamination of the subsoil (which is especially permeable in this area) and the peninsular water sources. Furthermore, GMOs endanger the livelihoods of indigenous farmers who work as beekeepers.

The decree establishes that “it is regarded as necessary to apply the principle of precaution to the morally unacceptable threat to the health that is posed by the presence of transgenic soy and agrochemicals, the serious and irreversible damage to the beekeeping activity and the unfairness to the future generations”.

It also reads that GMOs “threaten human rights of the Mayan corn growers and beekeepers, the right to prior, free and informed consultation; the right to work, the right to food, to commercialization and to industrialization, to social property, and the human right to live in a healthy environment”.

The Secretariat of Urban Development and Environment and the Sub-Secretariat of Rural Development will be the organisms in charge of the promotion of organic crops among agricultors. They will also hand out GMO-free seeds, train peasants on the care of organic crops and supervise them to ensure proper results.

Debate across the Peninsula

Over the last few years, debate over the use of transgenics in the Yucatan peninsula grew considerably. In Campeche, for example, indigenous communities have begun a consultation, but they had to confront groups that defend GMOs —namely, the companies that produce them, such as Monsanto, but also the Mennonite community.

Recently, members of a social organization called Los Chenes traveled to Peru to take part in the Latin American Conference for Benefactors of Indigenous Peoples, where they denounced that the Mexican State won’t comply with the sentence of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation regarding the illegal plantation of GMOs.

Those who have warned against GMOs have also alerted that the water of the Yucatán peninsula is being contaminated by agrotoxics that harm Mayan women the most, according to investigations by the Autonomous University of Yucatán (UAY) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

This investigation determined that the milk of Mayan mothers contained cancerous components that are found in agrochemicals, pesticides and plaguicides.

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