Class Action Against GM Corn Crops 9th Semester Report
– January 5, 2018 (Translated from the original in Spanish)
by René Sanchez Galindo
According to Mexican Law, the plaintiffs in a class action are required to provide periodical reports on the status of the lawsuit to the entire class. In order to fulfill this requirement, the present document brings an update on the class action against genetically modified (GM) corn crops to all members of the class, that is, all users (or consumers) of corn biodiversity as an environmental human right in Mexico, countrywide. This update refers to the most recent lawsuits filed and rulings released by the federal courts. In this class action, we defend native corn landraces and wild relatives from the risk of planting GM corn. This is the case¥s 54th month of litigation with ramifications in 17 federal courts.
- Temporary Injunction Against GM Corn Crops
Since September 2013, when the first injunction was granted to halt all permitting of GM corn crops countrywide, it has been challenged numerous times, but each and every appeals court called to review it has upheld the injunction, which remains firm up to this date.
Since 2013 the defendant transnational corporations, together with SAGARPA, have filed a total of 15 constitutional challenges (amparos) attempting to allow the planting of GM corn. The transnational industry and the federal government have tried to have the courts protect them against the judicial suspension of sowing. We have won 11 of these challenges and have managed to maintain the suspension in force.
This semester the First Collegiate Court in Civil Matters of the First Circuit partially resolved the package of 4 amparos that were pending to be resolved. In the public session on November 24, the three judges of this Court determined they lack the competence to decide whether a federal law is constitutional, or not; and taking into account that one of the transnational defendants challenged the constitutionality of Article 610, section IV, of the Federal Code of Civil Procedure, judges decided to send the case to the National Supreme Court of Justice.
Possible granting of some types of permits under judicial oversight
– In summary, all commercial and pre-commercial crop permits remain halted as a result of the court ruling; while permits with containment measures and with a scientific research purpose, could be suspended if judicial oversight demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the biosecurity measures.
– Between May 2016 and December 2017, the Mexican Agriculture and Environment Agencies (SAGARPA and SEMARNAT) have filled monthly reports to the federal court, although on some occasions we have had to request the court to order the delivery of reports for delays incurred.
– The government agencies state in their reports, including those submitted in December of 2017, that they have not granted or updated procedures for any type of permits for releasing or sowing GM corn.
– In case SAGARPA grants any of the authorized types of permits, such a permit will be subject to judicial control and oversight before, during and after the authorization. Scientific experts presented by the plaintiffs will have access to the judicial monitoring process and will be entitled to express their opinions and to challenge this process of various grounds including the utilization of Glyphosate, the presence of non-authorized GM corn, the scientific research itself, etc.
- Summary of the Class Action Lawsuit
A declaratory judgment in the sense that if GM corn genes are found in native maize, then this will damage biodiversity, food, health, and the indigenous, rights of present and future generations. It also aims to deny all permits for the release or sowing of GM corn in Mexico.
Who filed the class action lawsuit?
53 people, scientists, peasant farmers, beekeepers, human rights groups, environmental activists, artists, and civil organizations, consumers all of them.
After 54 months of litigation, three stages have been completed: preliminary opening, lawsuit or class certification (in this stage we succeeded in 11 amparo lawsuits filed by the federal government and the transnational industry), and conciliation hearing where no settlement was achieved. Currently, we are in the phase of the legal challenges that the parties have promoted within the period of proposal and preparation of evidence.
In this semester we continue with the defense of the evidence that the Judge has refused to accept. We raise the need for an exhaustive judicial debate on the subject. We will maintain our legal actions until the end of the class action to defend that the Collectivity fully accesses justice.
As part of these actions, we are litigating two revocation challenges in which we request a response regarding the procedure that will be followed in our opposition to the translations offered and ratified by the defendant companies.