President López Obrador’s commitment to not allow the use of genetically-modified (GM) organisms has been called into question by two non-governmental organizations, including Greenpeace.
In his inauguration speech on December 1 the new president pledged that the use of transgenic products, such as genetically-modified seeds, would not be permitted in Mexico under his government.
However, López Obrador’s appointments of Alfonso Romo as his chief of staff and Víctor Villalobos as agriculture secretary have raised eyebrows among GM opponents.
Both men have been involved in organizations that support the GM food industry.
Romo was the founder and CEO of the company Seminis, a transgenic seeds pioneer that was sold to United States agricultural biotechnology corporation Monsanto for US $400 million.
Villalobos was previously the head of CIBIOGEM, a federal government agency that develops policies for the safe use of genetically modified organisms.
María Colín, legal adviser for Greenpeace México, questioned whether Romo and Villalobos – who she said “come from a long career of promoting genetically modified organisms” – would “really have the will” to follow through with López Obrador’s pledge.
She added that the government needs to provide more details about how it plans to go about prohibiting the use of transgenic products and clarify if “everything is going to be banned or just corn.”
Adelita San Vicente, director of the Semillas de Vida (Seeds of Life) Foundation, an organization dedicated to the conservation of corn in its traditional form, also said that the presence of Romo and Villalobos within the upper echelons of government was cause for concern but pointed out that there are also new officials who have spoken out against GM foods.
They include María Elena Álvarez-Buylla, head of the National Council for Science and Technology (Conacyt), and Víctor Suárez, who was named undersecretary for food self-sufficiency.
“. . . The doctor Álvarez-Buylla has been important in the fight . . . against genetically modified organisms because she’s provided us with scientific information,” San Vicente said.
Planting GM corn in Mexico has been prohibited since 2013, pending the outcome of a lawsuit. Álvarez-Buylla has advocated the ban be made permanent.
Source: El Financiero (sp)