El Economista, 15 February 2016
Translated by Miguel Robles – Biosafety Alliance
Biotech companies established in Mexico are confident that this will be the year that for the first time they will be able to plant GMO corn commercially in the country, as there is optimism that the judiciary removes, once and for all, the legal suspension that prevents the government from evaluating and approving federal permits.
“We believe that this year we should be reaching a legal situation in which SAGARPA and SEMARNAT can resume its evaluation of applications and issuance of permits in cases where this is required,” he told The Economist Alejandro Monteagudo, CEO of Agrobio Mexico, a body that brings together the leading biotech country.
To date, there are 90 suspended applications for planting transgenic corn in different stages provided by the Biosecurity Act: an experimental and commercial pilot due to an appeal by a number of civil society organizations that lead to a judge’s decision in August to lift a court suspension from 2013 that prevented the ministries of Agriculture and Environment from reviewing and approving permits for planting.
The suspension was issued at the request of the mentioned organizations, including the so-called Without Corn There Is No Country (Sin Maíz No Hay País), who argue that GMOs are harmful to health, and in the case of corn, that the planting of genetically modified organisms will end the genetic variety of the crop in Mexico.
The case is being reviewed by a Court of Appeals judge, who could issue a decision later this month or in early March, said Monteagudo. “From a technical and legal perspective we are convinced that the unitary court now responsible for resolving the appeal will probably confirm the decision of the trial judge,” confided the director of the association of Mexico’s leading biotech companies such as Bayer CropScience, Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences and Pioneer.
Last August, the rationale of the trial judge that lifted the suspension was that its proponents were unable to claim any argument or evidence of a scientific nature to maintain or justify a suspension, so there is optimism that the appeals court ratified lifting, said Monteagudo, who claimed that to this date scientific evidence against consuming transgenic crops, which have already been approved by health agencies from dozens of countries.
The management explained that of the 90 applications for the planting of genetically modified corn, 12 correspond to the commercial phase, the same which could be resolved by the authorities two months after the lifting of the executive suspension would be in effect, so in an optimistic scenario this would be the same year that the crops would be released.
Mexico is the fifth largest producer of corn worldwide, but also the second largest importer. The annual harvest is around 22 million tons of white corn and a slight lower amount of yellow corn variety which is deficient, which has annual imports of 11 million tons.
Its main supplier is the United States, which receives about $2,700 million annually for the 100% transgenic grain that is sold to Mexico.
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