The Crowd claims
Stop Monsanto and other multinationals from growing genetically modified (GMO) corn that will force all farmers to grow GMO corn, will harm biodiversity, and ultimately puts Mexican cultural heritage and way of life at risk.
Next legal action of the crowd
After 36 months of litigation, the plaintiffs who The Crowd Versus support have been certified and the evidentiary period has begun. In this period each party files their evidence. Discovery motions should be completed late 2016 or in 2017. To help to cover the costs for preparation of their evidence, the crowd needs US $19,000 (17.500 euro) by the end of October 2016.
GMO corn already has been found in native maize. Maize is the precursor to corn and only found in Mexico, the country of origin for this food. The presence of GMO corn represents a very real danger, and its presence will damage biodiversity rights. Therefore GM permits should not be granted on any and all types of corn crops.
Notwithstanding the dozens of legal challenges filed by the GMO multinationals*, the temporary injunction granted in September 2013 to halt all permitting of GMO corn crops countrywide was upheld by each and every court of appeals called to review it. This order was granted even before the defendants were served on the lawsuit.
After serving the defendants, on March 7th, 2016, a federal court of appeals ruled the injunction should remain firm until a final decision on the merits of the case. This will remain in effect unless a federal circuit court or the Supreme Court rules otherwise. The injunction halts commercial and pre-commercial GM corn crops countrywide.
Although this decision also ruled that GMO corn crops for experimental and scientific research purposes may be authorized, the Mexican Agriculture and Environment agencies have stated to the federal court that no experimental or scientific research GMO corn crop permits will be granted until a final and firm ruling on this issue by the Mexican courts.
* Monsanto, Syngenta, SAGARPA, SEMARNAT, PHI (Pioneer-DuPont) and Dow.
Case background and who The Crowd supports
Corn has always been part of the daily lives of all Mexicans. Corn is not only the staple food of Mexico, but also has immense cultural value. Over a period of 8,000 years, Mexicans have cultivated over a thousand types of corn that originated in this country only. If GMO corn is authorized, the diversity of native Mexican corn is at risk through contamination. Farmers risk being gradually forced to grow GMO corn or have their native corn contaminated. Mexicans risk losing their cultural heritage and way of life. The crowd risks that in the end their daily food will be patented, and companies like Monsanto will have the monopoly on food and on pesticides. The crowd also risks that there will be no other choice than GMO corn. In this way GMO corn will also harm all of our biodiversity.
The big GMO companies have already spent estimated millions on 102 legal challenges in court and are fiercely lobbying to pave their way into Mexico to grow GMO corn at a commercial level.
Environmental Defender Law Center (EDLC) is the NGO/nonprofit that The Crowd Versus works together with for this case. The coalition of users and consumers of corn biodiversity in Mexico are represented by Alternativas y Procesos de Participación Social A.C. (Alternativas), a nonprofit organization based in Tehuacán, Puebla, Mexico. EDLC is supporting Alternativas and works to protect the human rights of individuals and communities in developing countries who are fighting against harm to their environment.
The first chamber of the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) has refused to review or analyze an appeal by Monsanto regarding the issuance of commercial permits for the sowing of GMO maize in the country. In this way, the decision to resolve the GMO trials involving the companies Monsanto, Dow, Pioneer and Dupont, as well as the Mexican Government Departments of the Environment and Agriculture, and on the other side, civil society and academic organizations that are opposed to the sowing of GMO maize, will have to be resolved by the First Collegiate Court on Civil Matters. The lawyer of the civil society Corn Collective, René Sánchez Galindo, explained that last Wednesday in a private meeting, the Supreme Court judges evaluated the appeal that Monsanto filed. None of the judges endorsed the company’s request, which was a requirement for the Court to place the appeal on its docket. Galindo considered that the arguments of the company—that transgenic maize is not harmful to health and the environment—are repetitive and reiterate what the companies Dow, Pioneer and Dupont said in another 22 lawsuits. He recalled that the Appeals Court ruled, inter alia, that the benefits of GMOs are uncertain. This decision was not contested by the Biotech companies, which have not been able to show the economic benefit of GMOs.
In November 2016, the class filed an appeal because 12th federal civil district court excluded expert witnesses, previously introduced into the trial by the plaintiffs.
In October 2016 federal court of amparo upheld the temporary injunction. GMO Corporations filed four constitutional appeals (revisiones de amparo) against this ruling.
On March 2016, the temporary injunction was ruled by the Second federal court of appeals on civil matters. GMO Corporations filed four challenges (amparos) against the temporary injunction.
Mexico’s XII District Court overturned the 2013 ruling that prevented biotech GMO companies, including Monsanto and Syngenta, planting genetically modified (GM) maize in Mexico. The decision has been appealed by Acción Colectiva del Maíz and will not come into force until the appeal have been heard and ruled on. The tragic ruling follows two years of nearly hundred appeals by the biotech Industry. But the temporary restraining order remained ruling, because the coalition appealed.
Finally, in June 2015, the temporary restraining order was upheld by all of 17 federal courts and several rulings.
In September 2014 Second federal court of appeals on civil matters certified the class. Since then, six constitutional challenges (amparos) were filled by federal government and the GMO corporations. 8 more appeals were also filed, but no amparo or appeal succeed, so the class lawsuit is certified.
In September 2013, a federal district court ruling halted gm corn crops countrywide. The technical name is temporary restraining order. The judge’s ruling also means that multinationals like Monsanto and Pioneer will be required to halt all activities involving the planting of transgenic maize in the Mexican countryside as long as collective action lawsuits initiated by the class (a coalition of citizens, farmers, scientists and civil society organizations) are working their way through the judicial system.
Since then, 106 legal challenges had been filed by the government and the GMO defendants against halting ruling and the class action lawsuit. The members of community-based organizations (the class) sued federal authorities and companies introducing transgenic maize into Mexico in 2013. Alternativas is in charge of finance issues of the class. Their aim is to achieve an absolute federal ban of the introduction of transgenic maize in all its various forms – including experimental and pilot commercial plantings – in Mexico, “which is the birthplace of corn in the world”.
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