The genetic contamination of maize in Mexico's Oaxaca state is a serious hazard for biodiversity in this region, a world centre of genetic diversity for the crop. Now a commission of NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) has agreed to study the problem.
Genetic contamination threatens biodiversity of maize in Oaxaca, Mexico, the world centre of diversity for this important crop.
The decision comes after indigenous communities from Oaxaca,
along with Greenpeace and three other NGOs filed a request under
Article 13 of the North American Agreement on Environmental
Cooperation (NAAEC), the NAFTA environmental side agreement.
This decision by NAFTA's Commission for Environmental
Cooperation (CEC) publicly recognises the gravity of the situation
in Mexico, where over 300 locally cultivated and wild maize
varieties are threatened by genetic contamination. This
contamination most likely originated from US-imported GE maize.
The case also creates a precedent, because this is the first
time that an environmental oversight body of an international trade
agreement will address environmental damage caused by genetically
engineered (GE) crops.
Hector Magallón, genetic engineering campaigner for Mexico
pointed out that, "The Mexican Government has known about this
contamination for almost a year and hasn't done anything to stop it
from spreading or solve the problem."
Mexico should require segregation of GE and conventional maize,
and ban the import of GE maize from the United States. Recognition
of the seriousness of this issue should also prompt calls for
identification of the companies responsible for the transgenic
pollution, and compensation for local affected communities.