Mexico’s Supreme Court nullified the authorization granted by the executive branch to cultivate genetically-modified soy in Campeche and Yucatán.
Mayan indigenous communities in the southeastern states of Campeche and Yucatán celebrated the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) decision to provisionally suspend the permission granted to the transnational company Monsanto to cultivate genetically-modified (GMO) soy. The SCJ argued that when the authorization was given — during the government of Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) — the Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (SAGARPA) neglected to consider the right of prior consultation of indigenous communities, established by the Mexican Constitution.
The Second Court of the SCJ ordered that a consultation with the affected communities be done, although the judgment, published on Nov. 4, did not take into account the environmental damages that production of GMO soy produces.
“We did it!,” Gustavo Huchín Cauich, a Mayan beekeeper from the town of Hopelchén in Campeche, announced in the social media. He led a campaign against Monsanto through Change, online petition platform.
“The Supreme Court decided that we, the Mayan communities, have the reason in the writs of amparo we presented against the permits the federal government granted to Monsanto to cultivate soy. This means that Monsanto cannot plant transgenic soy in the Yucatán peninsula and the only way to grant the permits would be doing a previous consultation with us, as members of the communities to be affected,” Huchín Cauich said.
Organic honey endangered
More than 25,000 indigenous families who are organic beekeepers have been affected by Monsanto GMO crops that cover 250,000 hectares in the southeast of the country. In 2011, the European Union ceased the importation of their honey after finding traces of genetically-modified pollen. This resulted in the beekeepers presenting writs of amparo asking to prohibit the planting of GMO soy.
According to Huchín Cauich, “the planting of GMO soy affects beekeeping, a historic and traditional practice of the Mayan people and violates the rights to a healthy environment by the excessive use of pesticides and the deforestation which accompanies GMO agriculture. Presently, thousands of hectares of jungle have been deforested. Our jungle is the last remaining one in the country.”
Diverse studies have demonstrated that GMO soy affects honey production, changing the flavor and quality. It requires the use of the herbicide glyphosate which is suspected to be carcinogenic, according to the World Health Organization, and affects the bees and is a source of soil contamination.
“This year we have witnessed how soy producers, mostly large agribusinessmen from outside the region, have increased the aerial spraying of pesticides, placing the health of people and bees, our principal source of income, in jeopardy,” Huchín Cauich said.
Mexico is the sixth largest honey producer in the world and the third largest exporter after Argentina and China, making up 10 percent of the 300,000 metric tons that is sold on the global market each year. The 90 percent of Mexico’s honey production goes to Europe.