Greenpeace Intercepts Train Filled With U.S. Contaminated Corn at Mexican Border

Mexican Government Under Pressure to Resist U.S. GMO Dumping

Media release - August 17, 2003
Greenpeace activists intercepted a trainload of U.S. corn today as it tried to enter Mexico, in response to new evidence that the United States was dumping genetically engineered crops across the border. The transport of this corn contravenes international agreements, and undermines the diversity and health of Mexican corn and the people who rely on it.

Greenpeace activists intercepted a trainload of U.S. corn today as it tried to enter Mexico, in response to new evidence that the United States was dumping genetically engineered crops across the border. The transport of this corn contravenes international agreements, and undermines the diversity and health of Mexican corn and the people who rely on it.

Activists suspended themselves from the train's axles to hang below the railway bridge over the Rio Grande - the Mexican-U.S. border - while the Greenpeace Mexico office negotiated with the Mexican Government for a ban on the U.S. dumping of genetically engineered corn into Mexico.

Scientific analysis from an independent U.S. laboratory of U.S. corn samples entering Mexico last fall showed that roughly one third of the corn was genetically engineered. Corn imports from the U.S. are thought to be responsible for widespread contamination of traditional varieties of corn grown by peasants in the mountainous regions of central Mexico. Much of the corn entering Mexico is Monsanto's Bt corn, engineered to produce a toxin that kills insects, threatens native butterflies and moths and damages the fertility of the soil. The long term impacts of engineered crops on humans and the environment are currently not known.

"NAFTA opened up Mexico's borders to massive imports of U.S. corn -- and now over 5 million tons of U.S. contaminated corn is imported into Mexico every year," said Doreen Stabinsky of Greenpeace. "This contaminated corn poses unacceptable threats to Mexico's unique and valuable stores of biological diversity. Moreover, the dumping of U.S. corn in Mexico has had significant negative impacts on the agricultural sector, displacing millions of peasants who are put out of work by cheap corn imports."

In January 2003, over 100,000 Mexican peasants staged a protest in Mexico City demanding an end to cheap corn imports. The U.S. is using trade agreements such as NAFTA and the WTO to force Mexico to accept contaminated corn, at the same time endangering the environment and putting Mexican corn producers out of business.

"Against our will, Mexicans are witnessing the destruction of our number one food source, as well as the health and environment of the people who depend on it. This is happening because governments around the world are allowing the United States to determine global trade policy that benefits the interests of biotech corporations over any other interests," said Liza Covantes, a campaigner from Greenpeace Mexico.

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