The Crowd vs. GM Corn in Mexico

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GM Corn in Mexico

 

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Tenth Semestral Report by Maize Collective Demand

TENTH SEMESTER REPORT
MAIZE COLLECTIVE DEMAND

5 July 2018

We have completed 5 years of litigation in 19 federal courts. This report complies with the legal requirement to inform the general public, as consumers of corn in Mexico and users of the environment’s genetic biodiversity, as well as the signatories of the class action lawsuit against the planting of transgenic corn, so that they be aware of the actions taken and  the results achieved in the defense of Mexican native maize and its wild relatives.

  1. Precautionary measures to suspend the planting of transgenic corn.

The class action lawsuit has succeeded in suspending the planting of transgenic corn throughout the country from September 2013 to the present.

Pre-commercial and commercial permits are suspended by the court’s order; however, since 2016, GM corn can be planted for scientific purposes. In the latter case, permits can  be suspended again if, upon receiving federal government reports, the courts detect (or are presented with evidence) that biosecurity measures in place are ineffective. However, SAGARPA (Mexico’s Agriculture Agency) has NOT issued any permits of this type.

The defendant transnational companies (Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Agrosciences and PHI Mexico, known worldwide as Dupont), and SAGARPA have, together, filed fifteen  injunctions (amparo lawsuits) requesting to be allowed to plant  transgenic corn. These injunctions sought the lifting of the suspension that we have obtained. We have won eleven of these amparo lawsuits and there are still four cases pending resolution. Thanks to these court victories, the SUSPENSION of GM corn planting is maintained.

The First Chamber of Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice decided that it will analyze, within the next six months, the precautionary measures currently in place. However, the court has not yet stated whether it will decide only the constitutionality of the laws on which the measures are based, or if it will also examine the questionings against the judicial order.

PHI Mexico has challenged the constitutionality of article 610, section IV, of the Federal Code of Civil Procedure, because  the precautionary measures have (i) defined what type of transgenic maize crops are judicially suspended and which ones are NOT; and (ii)  ordered the government to submit reports that could lead to the general suspension being reinstated.

On the other hand, between May 2016 and June 2018, SAGARPA and SEMARNAT (Mexico’s Environment Agency) have submitted monthly reports to the court (some of them extemporaneous), in which )they report that they have NOT granted any type of permits for the planting of GM corn.

Had these agencies issued a permit (for scientific purposes) it would be subject to the control and supervision of the federal judge, before, during and after the planting authorization. The scientists of the class action lawsuit have the right to be informed on, express their opinion about, and challenge the judge’s vigilance on the use of the glyphosate herbicide, the unauthorized presence of transgenics, the terms scientific research, etc.

  1. Class Action Lawsuit against transgenic corn

Remedy Sought n

That federal courts declare that the release into the environment or planting of transgenic maize will damage the human right to the biological diversity of native maize of the current and future generations, as well as the rights to food, health and the rights of indigenous peoples. Consequently, the remedy sought is that courts deny all requests to  release or plant GM maize.

Case in Court

In five years we have overcome the following procedural phases: preliminary admission of the lawsuit, certification of the claim (phase in which the decision in our favor was challenged by additional eleven   amparo lawsuits filed by the federal government and the transnational companies), conciliation (in which an agreement was not reached by the parties), and gathering and presentation of evidence. We are  currently presenting motions in relation to evidentiary matters.

For example, we have detected that the defendant multinational corporations intended to justify the use of their technology by mutilating scientific articles through incomplete translations; we have questioned it just after the companies presented these documents and before the court accepted them as evidence. The court was request to verify the correction of these documents.

On the other hand, the defendants have also questioned, long after the court had accepted them, some of the documents the plaintiffs have presented as evidence.  rDespite a denial to a similar request from our side, the companies´ motion to reject some of our evidence was granted. We have challenged this decision with a revocation appeal.

Because the judge granted to the companies the same request that was denied to the plaintiffs, we have filed a writ of amparo that has been recently been admitted by the court. Collective actions are designed to allow access to justice to those who DO NOT have the means to litigate before the courts. To achieve this, judges must balance the lack of means of the class, against the disproportionate power of commercial corporations, and NOT the other way around.

In addition, in 2018 we have proposed and obtained the acceptance as evidence of new scientific studies. One of them, an official document already accepted by the judge as evidence, proves that the illicit (NOT allowed) dispersion of GM corn causes a combination of transgenes that have never been analyzed nor evaluated. The same study demonstrates the inadequacy of the government monitoring on this issue. Another study that has not yet been accepted by the court brings a meta-scientific analysis that demonstrates that modern biotechnology or genetic engineering produces unexpected consequences in crops.

For more information please write to: rene.sanchez.galindo@gmail.com