On 10 October, a Mexican federal judge decision hit the headlines, ruling to suspend the cultivation of GM corn in Mexico.
The judge ordered to "suspend activities leading to granting permission to experiment or release at a commercial level genetically modified corn”, while there is a discussion about its possible impacts. The “risk of imminent harm to the environment” was cited by the judge as the basis for the decision, and the suspension should last "as long as the collective action lawsuits initiated by citizens, farmers, scientists, and civil society organizations are working their way through the judicial system." The already granted trials are not suspended.
The lawsuit undertaken by citizen groups seeks to protect the “human right to save and use the agrobiodiversity of native landraces from the threats posed by GMO maize”, said one of its initiators. Since 2001, evidence of contamination of Mexico's native corn varieties by GM maize varieties (principally Monsanto's RoundupReady maize) has been documented.
The fight against GM corn in Mexico has been raging ever since. Especially in the last few years, actions and demonstrations were held around the country. Avaaz published an international petition against GE maize. The Red en Defensa del Maíz (Network in Defence of Maize, or RDM) had stated: "We reject the whole GE maize paradigm as a direct attack on over 10,000 years of stewardship of native maize; on the agricultural and subsistence strategies of peoples and communities; on Mexico’s food security and sovereignty; on free and autonomous food production from native, patent-free, non-genetically modified seeds, and on public health." Mexico is the center of origin of maize.
Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias of the Convention on Biological Diversity confirmed this, saying: "In view of the applications received by the Government of Mexico regarding the environmental release of various genetically modified maize varieties, I have written to the country’s national focal points for both the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. In the letter, I reminded them of their obligations under the Convention and the Biosafety Protocol and I particularly stressed the importance of Mexico as a centre of origin of maize, the fundamental role of maize in world food security, and the importance of preserving the genetic diversity of the species faced with the challenges of climate change and other environmental pressures. I hope that the government of Mexico will take account of the concerns of all interested parties and will make appropriate decisions."