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A Monsanto protest in Mexico City. A Monsanto protest in Mexico City.

Agency invalidates Monsanto GM permit

GM soybeans detected outside areas authorized for sowing

Agriculture sanitation authority Senasica has revoked a permit held by Monsanto to commercialize genetically modified soy in seven Mexican states.

The agency said the company had not complied with biosecurity controls and failed to prevent risks that the genetically modified organisms (GMO) pose to the environment.

The decision came after transgenic soybeans cultivated by Monsanto were detected outside areas authorized for sowing of the genetically-modified seeds, causing what Senasica described as “serious or irreversible damage to the environment.”

Environmental organizations, indigenous collectives and other activist groups had alerted authorities to the presence of the crops in unauthorized areas. A beekeepers’ collective from Campeche described the revocation as “official recognition of the danger caused by the release of any GMO into the environment.”

The ruling applies to Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo, where the company had been authorized to operate since 2012.

In a prepared statement, Monsanto said that the permit had been revoked on unwarranted legal and technical grounds and called the decision unjustified.

The company’s regional legal director also questioned why the decision was made before a consultation process with indigenous communities on the Yucatán peninsula had been completed, a measure ordered by the Supreme Court after it suspended the permit in June last year.

Mexican authorities and the Missouri-based agrochemical and agri-tech corporation have been involved in a legal tug-of-war since 2015 and while Monsanto largely won back its right to continue its activities after last year’s suspension, the injunction remained in force across 15 municipalities in two states while community consultation took place.

Several groups have long argued that the company’s genetically-modified seeds and herbicide use present a serious risk to the natural biodiversity in the states where it has a presence.

Honey producers have been particularly vocal in their opposition and beekeepers on the Yucatán peninsula previously obtained an injunction against Monsanto in 2015, suspending its activities there.

In August, the Autonomous University of Campeche confirmed the presence of glyphosate — the active ingredient in the Monsanto herbicide Roundup — in groundwater and urine samples of residents in the municipality of Hopelchén, Campeche.

The cultivation of soybeans in Mexico has increased by 290% in the last six years but according to the Agriculture Secretariat (Sagarpa), around 90% of the soya consumed in Mexico is imported from the United States.

That figure could well grow further as Monsanto said that around 6,000 soybean producers, some of whom have been cultivating the legumes for more than two decades, will be affected by the loss of its operational permit.

Courts have also blocked Monsanto from growing corn in Mexico due to fears surrounding the effect genetically modified maize would have on the environment and local producers. Nevertheless, a recent study by the National Autonomous University (UNAM) found that 90% of tortillas in Mexico contain traces of genetically modified corn.

Source: Animal Político (sp)

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