A court has ruled that consultation with indigenous people is required before issuing permits for GMO crops – but planting of GM soybean and maize continues unabated
EXCERPT: “The Maya are totally against genetically modified soybeans, and we do not see any benefit. It is killing our bees, [and] is deforesting our forest, which we have cared for over centuries with affection and love.”
Monsanto in Mexico update: Indigenous farmers threaten to end consultations if GMO planting continues
Devon G. Peña
EJFood.blogspot, 18 June
When we last reported on the situation with GMOs in the southern Mexican states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán, there were many reasons to celebrate since a federal judge had overturned the approval of GMO soy plantings in this region as a threat to the indigenous beekeepers of the region (see our posts of March 16 2014 and July 24, 2014).
Those rulings profoundly recognized Mayan indigenous autonomy. As quoted in our report of March 2014: According to press reports… (Mar 11, 2014) the court “determined that the effective protection of indigenous rights requires the exercise of certain human rights of a procedural nature, mainly the access to information, participation in decision-making and access to ensure justice.”
You would think this was a clear victory. It apparently is not. This is, after all, Mexico, a place where the state of economic exception remains just as brutal and anti-indigenous as always. Here is the problem: While the courts have ruled that consultation with indigenous peoples is required as part of the process for reviewing permits for GMO crops, the planting of transgenic soybean (and maize) apparently continue unabated, without the proper legal permissions and in defiance of standing federal court orders prohibiting transgenic crops until the indigenous consultation process runs its course, and then presumably only if there is indigenous consent.
I am posting a report from the Mexican site, Desinforménos, that discusses the current situation in the peninsular Mexican state of Campeche. It is vital that nonGMO movement activists remain aware of and engaged with the continuing indigenous struggle against transgenic soybeans which remain an active threat to bees and beekeepers. This struggle is far from over and if we disengage and take the pressure off, then the Mayan beekeepers struggles will have been for naught. The translation is mine.
Campeche Mayan communities on alert: Will refuse consultations if illegal planting continues
Desinforménos, June 16, 2016
Campeche Mayan communities are on alert. They are not alone and are joined by beekeepers and social organizations who together carry forward the legal battle to keep genetically modified soybeans out of the land of the peninsular state.
“The Maya are totally against genetically modified soybeans, and we do not see any benefit. It is killing our bees, is deforesting our forest, which we have cared for over centuries with affection and love. So we are in the fight to not sow. In communities there is a greater openness and awareness of what this danger is. They have also understood what the consultation of the people involves and are willing to respond, by refusing consultation and saying, no.” Don Gustavo, a member of the community of Bolonchén Rejon, which is part of the municipality of Hopelchen in Campeche, made this statement yesterday to journalists covering the story.
“In some parts of the state there was confusion about whether it transgenic soybeans could be planted, but the resolution of the Supreme Court is very clear and establishes a ban in the 8 municipalities for which companies had applied for permits planting. For the rest of the municipalities, they did not ask permission, so they cannot. Then, in 8 municipalities affected by the judgment of the Supreme Court, and the others where no permits for planting have been granted,” says attorney Jorge Fernández, a member of the “Indignation Team” and one of the legal consultants leading the case against the multinational contaminated seeds.
Earlier this month, Indignation Team and Greenpeace Mexico, which is also involved in the legal defense of the Mayan communities, presented popular complaints with the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) against Monsanto and against the person responsible for planting soybeans GM in the state of Campeche, with particular attention to the homonymous municipality.
“We articulated this complaint against the statements by the legal director of Monsanto for the region, Rodrigo Ojeda de Koning, who expressed the willingness of the company to market its genetically modified soya in municipalities where no public consultation will be held with affected communities” said María Colín, a member of Greenpeace Mexico.
Colín explained that for the marketing of GM seeds to take place, the affected municipalities must be identified and explicitly involved and when Monsanto planted in 2012, it omitted the municipality of Campeche.
Although permission was granted, a ruling by the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court in November 2015 suspended the planting permits because indigenous communities were not consulted before the company was given the nod.
“The courts have made the determination that no more planting of GMO soybeans may occur in the state. We are organizing ourselves to inspect the fields and if we detect the presence of genetically modified soybeans, we will suspend the consultations to denounce those responsible, that’s what we do.” explained Don Gustavo.
Attorney Jorge Fernández explains that communities will not allow a simulation process of public consultation, “If there is any indication of planting, communities will immediately suspend the inquiry.”
This process is still at the stage of preliminary agreements in which the methodology used to collect the voice of communities has hardly been defined. Meanwhile, they tell anyone who will listen, “The planting season starts now, between mid-June and July, it is a crop of spring - summer. The communities are interested in the subject and we will be alert and to keep fighting because it should not be planted.”