Gathered together in Ek Balam, Yucatan, Mexico, in the center or origin of maize, 50 members from indigenous communities, First Nations, and peasant farmers from across the world, representing organizations and thousands of sons and daughters of this plant, declare the following:

dsc_0218-copy1. That indigenous and peasant communities are the legitimate possessors, conservators and improvers of corn and all of its associated biodiversity, that we have created and protected in our territories over centuries the biological and cultural wealth of the world, which serves to remind us that we are a diversity of colors, forms, smells, tastes, and different ways of knowing.

2. We visualize the biocultural heritage of indigenous people and of humanity through four different contexts — life, community, food sovereignty, and wholeness.

3. We did not domesticate maize, maize domesticated us, it forms part of mother earth – the water, the wind, the trees, the animals, and we form part of this collective and we recognize that it was woman who created agriculture and this sacred plant.

4. Maize is the center of life with sacred value for original peoples, and together with biological diversity and it can never be treated as a commodity.

5. As original people, we have conserved, maintained, and improved, day to day, until the present, all of the varieties of maize and the biodiversity that linked to the use of nature.

The participants of this encounter declare the following to all those who are meeting in Cancun during the development of COP-13 the following:

dsc_0259-copy1. Respect for the cosmovisions, uses and customs of indigenous people and peasant communities and their territories.

2. Respect for and recognition of the traditional collective practices of work and solidarity between our communities, which have permitted us to exercise conviviality.

3. Any law applicable to seeds and biological diversity should be discussed and agreed to in a representative consensus manner through free, prior, and informed consent.

4. No law will criminalize the free exchange and caring flow of seeds among indigenous peoples and peasant farmers.

5. Prohibition of the introduction, planting, and legal or illegal sale of transgenic maize seeds in all the countries whose indigenous peoples, through present times, have conserved and diversified this plant and its associated cultigens.

dsc_0410-copy6. That the national governments will prohibit national and transnational corporations from placing at risk, destroying, appropriating or patenting the natural resources of our territories, agroecosystems, biocultural landscapes, and biodiversity in all of its expression.

7. Promote initiatives in agroecological production exercising the right to healthy, sound, and adequate food, in accord with the cultural identity of each indigenous community, as a political strategy for food sovereignty in each locality.

8. Promote and reinforce the direct participation of women of indigenous and peasant communities, in decision-making related to the regulation of biological resources and associated traditional knowledge.

9. An end to discrimination based our traditional ways of dress, forms of speech, and skin color.

10. Widen, reinforce, and articulate the networks of production and preservation of native seeds at the national level.

Ek Balam, Yucatan, Mexico, 3 december 2016

Also read:

Indigenous peoples bring Ek Balam Declaration to COP13 – Voices of Maíz

Seed Freedom in Mexico – Nov. Dec. 2016

Voices of Maíz

Voces del Maíz

Photos: Manlio Masucci

This post is also available in: Spanish