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The Eco-Politics of Spermicidal, Genetically Engineered Corn

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dutchdemocrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-05 06:45 AM
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The Eco-Politics of Spermicidal, Genetically Engineered Corn
Edited on Fri May-27-05 07:13 AM by dutchdemocrat
The Eco-Politics of Genetically Engineered Corn
January 2005

Biotechnology and the eco-politics of corn in Mexico

Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero

Genetically engineered corn has invaded Mexico. There is no denying it. It came from the United States (where else?) and is now proliferating agressively, contaminating local varieties. This is no mere academic matter or scientific curiosity. The consequences of the genetic contamination of corn in its place of origin for the ecology, agricultural biodiversity and food security not only of Mexico but the whole world, remain unknown although potentially
catastrophic. Equally worrisome are the effects it might have on the livelihoods of the native peoples of Mesoamerica and their ability to resist forceful integration into the corporate-controlled global economy. It is but the latest chapter in a 500 year-old saga of invasion and resistance. As we'll see, the GE corn debacle in Mexico is inseparable from the broader drama of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the ambitious designs of life sciences corporations that aim to colonize the food chain, and the whole globalization project.


Second, Mexico was forced to practically eliminate tariffs, import quotas and direct payments to its farmers. As a result, Mexico became a net importer of corn, absorbing the US's massive surplus. Mexico's corn imports from the USA ballooned between 1994 and 2002 from 2.2 million tons annually to 6 million. Mexico is now the US's second corn market, buying 11% of its exports in 2000. Now this country lives the ignominy of seeing its children eating tortillas made from imported corn. American corn sells cheaper because of dumping, term that describes the act of selling a product below its cost of production. The United States, contradicting its discourse of free trade and free competition, subsidizes its agricultural exports to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars A DAY. The effect on Mexico's agriculture and countryside has been devastating. Millers, processors, retailers and restaurants prefer to buy American corn, which although of lesser quality is cheaper than local maize. Mexican peasants, with their traditional and criollo maize, although of superior quality, simply cannot compete. As maize cultivation becomes an economically impractical proposition, the peasants abandon the land to migrate to Mexico City or to the United States, or to work in the maquiladoras. Countless strains and varieties of maize head then to extinction. Consumers don't win either. Between 1994 and 2003 the price of tortillas quadrupled.


Silvia Ribeiro, of the non-governmental ETC Group, has noted with concern that the California-based Epicyte corporation boasts a spermicidal corn for use as a contraceptive. "The potential of spermicidal corn as a biological weapon is very high", she warned in a column in the Mexican daily La Jornada, and reminisced about the use of forced sterilizations against indigenous peoples. Instead of being praised, Chapela and Quist were hounded, ridiculed and slandered by the biotech industry, with the full support and collaboration of prominent members of the scientific community. First came the hair-splitting methodological critiques which
distracted attention from the actual findings. Then came the slanderous anonymous e-mails, which started in the pro-biotech AgBioWorld list server. The messages, signed by Mary Murphy and Andura Smetacek, smeared Chapela and Quist, questioning their credibility, motivations and ethics and alleging that they have an eco-extremist anti-science agenda. Murphy and Smetacek turned out not to exist at all. Their messages were found to originate in the computers of biotech corporate giant Monsanto and the Bivings Group, a public relations firm that works for the life sciences industry.



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Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-05 08:18 AM
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1. :SIGH:
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Lannes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-05 08:21 AM
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2. Frankencorn
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fed-up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-05 12:14 PM
Response to Original message
3. I'm still waiting for the Spermicidal Corn to "Accidentally" Get into..
the low-income school lunch program...

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