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Call for action over Mexican maize

NOTE: You may have seen the recent news that GM maize trials may be given the go ahead this autumn. Please find ways to show your support for this global call for action in defence of Mexican maize from Monsanto and its GMOs.

EXTRACT: Please send all press releases, photos and other materials of every action you do at the [nearest] Mexican embassy on 12 October, as well as other actions around that date, to the Network in Defense of Maize This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so they can diffuse and promote them in Mexico. Thank you! Your support is precious!
Call for Action - 12 October 2009

Support Mexico's Traditional Culture of Maize and Food Sovereignty


*We call on the population to demand that all produce we consume on a daily basis is GMO-free.

*We call on international agencies to condemn the Government of Mexico for violating peasant ancestral rights, as well as disrespecting biodiversity and food sovereignty, and ignoring the principle of precaution in the center of origin of basic crops that nowadays nourish the world.

*On 12 October, invite everyone to protest at the [nearest] Mexican Embassy against transgenic maize in Mexico!

Why this Call for Action on 12 October?

Monsanto has just lost 18 of 24 requests for experimental maize open-field testing in the northern regions of Mexico. These regions are Monsanto's most-wanted areas due to their commercial maize farming background: most of the everyday tortillas of the Mexican inhabitants come from there.

Therefore, the risk of having native varieties contaminated is huge and Monsanto is pressing the Government to have its requests attended [granted]. This has not happened yet, but might happen very soon.

In Mexico, October 12 is a national holiday known as Di-a de la Raza, or Day of the Race. It's a day to celebrate Mexican traditions and culture.

Besides this, in recent years, it has also been more and more used as a day for demonstrations, and to protest for social rights or defending indigenous culture. In the present context, the fragile position in which Mexican maize varieties are put, due to the menace of GM maize and GM companies, makes them a very important social and cultural value to be defended and protected.

Via Campesina in Mexico has started a campaign "Fuera Monsanto y No al Maiz Transgenico" in June. From 11 to 16 October they will protest in several regions of the country. The Network in Defense of Maize is supporting Via Campesina and will deliver the collected signatures to the Mexican Government on the 16th October. On that day some press conferences and actions might happen. So, if we do act on 12 October at our Mexican embassies, we should inform the Network in Defense of Maize, so that our international actions get to the Mexican press.

Right now, due to a climate of internal Mexican tension, our actions through Europe and worldwide increase the possibilities of resonance. By doing this, we are giving a great support to Mexico's anti-GMO struggle, and pressuring Mexican Government not to easily accept the requests of Monsanto.

**Act Now!**

Please send all press-releases, photos and other materials of every action you do at the Mexican embassy on 12 October, as well as other actions around that date, to the Network in Defense of Maize This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so they can diffuse and promote them in Mexico. Thank you! Your support is precious!

The Defense of Maize Network is promoting a Declaration against the GMO maize, which already has about 6500 individual signatures and 1350 signatures from organizations of 74 countries by now. We would like to have your support as well. Sign the letter now!

Manifesto - In the defense of maize:
To the people of Mexico
To the peoples of the world
To the Mexican government
To the Convention on Biological Diversity / Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
To the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations / FAO

The indigenous and peasant organizations and communities, environmental organizations, popular education organizations, base organizations, ecclesiastical communities, groups of producers, members of urban movements, scholars, scientists, and political analysts of the Network In Defense of Maize vigorously repudiate the planting of transgenic maize in Mexico. It is a historic crime against the peoples of maize, against biodiversity and food sovereignty, against ten thousand years of indigenous and peasant agriculture that bequeathed this seed for the wellbeing of all the peoples of the world.

We assert that the presidential decree of March 6, 2009, which allows the planting of transgenic maize, intentionally fails to consider that: Mexico is the center of origin and diversity of maize. There are over 59 known races and thousands of varieties, which will be inevitably contaminated. It is indigenous and peasant peoples who created and preserve this genetic treasure of maize, one of the main crops on which human and animal nourishment depends around the globe. Maize is the basic food source for the Mexican population. There are no studies of what happens when a population eats large quantities. And in Mexico the consumption of maize happens in large quantities. There are scientific studies which, at much smaller levels of consumption, report allergies and other negative impacts on the health of humans and animals fed with transgenic food.

The varieties of transgenic maize which are being proposed for planting in the country do not solve Mexico's agricultural problems: They are more expensive, since the cost of seeds and licensing are greater than those associated with conventional crops; they do not have a greater rate of return: it is equal or less, unless there is a strong incidence of pests which are not common in Mexico; they require more pesticides since they constantly emit Bt toxins, which generate resistance and secondary pests that must be controlled with other pesticides. These crops will damage biodiversity and the environment.

Since Mexico is an extremely biodiverse country, no research undertaken in other environments is applicable because the variables and interconnections increase exponentially. Since maize is an open pollinated crop, avoiding
transgenic contamination is impossible when cultivated in open fields.

Contamination also occurs in warehouses, during transportation, and in industrial facilities. Transgenic crops are useless for peasant or organic agriculture, but they will unavoidably contaminate native and criollo varieties of maize, while threatening organic production, which will lose its market niche.

All transgenic seeds are patented and are controlled by six multinational companies (Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Dow, Bayer, BASF), which results in a complete dependence of peasants and farm workers on these multinationals and criminalizes the victims of contamination.

The native peoples of Mexico created maize and they have been the guardians and creators of the diversity of varieties currently in existence. Food
sovereignty and the preservation of this diversity depend on the integrity of their rights. Because of that, transgenic contamination is an assault on
the identity of Mesoamerican peoples and is an act of aggression against ten thousand years of agriculture. The planting of transgenic maize is a frontal attack against native and peasant peoples and a violation of their rights.

For the peoples that constitute Mexico, maize is not merchandise, but the origin of a civilization and the foundation of the livelihood of peasant lives and economies. We will not let our seeds be lost or contaminated by transgenes owned by transnational companies. We will not comply with unfair laws that criminalize seeds and peasant lifestyle. We will continue protecting maize and the life of our peoples.

We place responsibility for the loss and damage of Mexican maize on the companies that produce transgenic seeds; on the legislative powers that
approved the Law of Biosafety and Genetically Modified Organisms ("Monsanto Law") for the benefit of corporations; on the Mexican government; on the secretaries of Agriculture, Environment and the Intersecretarial Commission on Biosafety and GMOs (CIBIOGEM), who are responsible for the final measures to eliminate all legal protections of maize.

For all these reasons:

We repudiate the experimental or commercial cultivation of transgenic maize and demand that it be banned in Mexico.

We repudiate the "Monsanto Law", its bylaws, and any other mechanism to criminalize peasant seeds.

We repudiate government monitoring of peasant cornfields, because it is a pretext for eliminating even more peasant seeds.

We commit ourselves, and call on all indigenous and peasant communities and peoples to do the same: defend native seeds and continue planting, storing, exchanging, and distributing their own seeds, as well as exercising their right over their territories and preventing the cultivation of transgenic maize.

We call on the population to demand that all produce we consume on a daily basis is GMO-free.

We call on international agencies to condemn the government of Mexico for this violation of peasant ancestral rights, biodiversity, food sovereignty, and the precautionary principle in centers of origin of basic crops for world nourishment and economy.