The International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR)


Transgenic crops in Mexico

Michelle Chauvet,
Yolanda Massieu,
Rosa Luz González,
Universidad Autňnoma Metropolitana-Azcapotzalco,

The paper describes the situation of transgenic crops in Mexican agriculture. At present, in Mexico only a long shelf tomato has been liberalized and there are pre-commercial trials with Bt cotton and Roundup resistant soybean. There are field trials on many other crops, as squash, flowers, tomato, potato, banana, papaya, soybean and cotton. Transgenic corn field trials were stopped in 1999, considering that Mexico is the center of origin of this crops and there are still wild parents and local varieties that could be affected and are not well known. It is forbidden to plant transgenic corn in the country, but people are already eating it, as Mexico imports form USA a significant part of its consume (between 20% and 50% in the last 20 years).

There is an analysis of the socioeconomic situation of the main transgenic crops, as well as the regulatory criterion for liberation, field and pre-commercial trials, considering also social actors involved in regulation. It gives a view about the laws concerning to biosafety in the country. Mexico has got some experience about assessing transgenic crops’ risks, there existed an Agriculture Biosafety Committee since 1988 to 2000. IN this last year the Comitteee’s functions were transferred to an Inter-Ministerial Comission, where Agriculture, Environment, Health, Economics, Education and Trade Ministers are present.

As Mexico is one of the most biodiverse territories in the world, the paper has got a part in which possible impacts in biodiversity are described, and as Mexican agriculture is involved in a strong trade liberalization and privatization process, it also takes into account impacts for farmers and agriculture practices. There are important farmers’ social movements and Non-Government Organizations involved in a response to a possible liberalization of transgenic crops in the country. Agrobiotechnology industry has got strong interests in the issue and recently it formed a group of the main firms, named AgroBio (Novartis, Aventis, Dupont, Monsanto and Savia), which has begun an information campaign in order to influence favourably public perception of transgenic crops.

The paper gives some conclusions about possible risks and benefits of transgenic crops in the country and asks some important questions about the future of these new plants in Mexican agriculture.

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