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Open letter supporting the right of the people of Mexico to determine their own relationship with corn

The Council of Canadians has signed this open letter led by the National Farmer’s Union in solidarity with farmers in Mexico, affirming their seed sovereignty and supporting their right to reject GMO corn, and opposing Canada’s role in the trade dispute challenging Mexico’s restrictions on the use of GM corn.

Preamble

The Government of Canada is supporting a trade challenge initiated by the United States, under the Canada-US-Mexico trade agreement (CUSMA), that aims to end Mexico’s restrictions on the use of genetically modified corn for certain foods. Canada does not export any corn to Mexico.

On February 13, 2023, a presidential decree disallowed the use of GM corn in Mexico for making traditional foods, such as tortilla, that rely on minimally processed white corn flour. The decree also states the intention to eventually replace GM corn ingredients in processed foods with non-GM corn. These measures are the result of decades of struggle by farmers and grassroots communities in Mexico who oppose the use of genetic modification and are asserting their right to seed and food sovereignty.

Corn, known in Mexico and most of the world as “maize”, is a staple of the Mexican diet and is central to Mexican culture and agriculture, history and national identity, and to Indigenous cultures and spiritual practices. Mexico is the global centre of origin of corn. Indigenous and peasant farmers in Mexico have been stewarding life-giving corn biodiversity for thousands of years, building agroecological practices like the milpa to safeguard locally adapted landraces and ensure a resilient food supply for families and communities.

The decree says that Mexico is restricting the use of GM corn in order to uphold food sovereignty, including the Indigenous milpa; to protect native corn from GM contamination; to preserve Mexico’s biocultural heritage; and to take precautionary measures to protect human health.

For more information see the report on this trade dispute by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network www.cban.ca/tradedispute

Statement of Solidarity

We support the seed sovereignty of Indigenous and peasant farmers in Mexico and their pursuit of food sovereignty;

We support the right of people in Mexico to reject genetically modified corn and the right of the Government of Mexico to restrict the use of GM corn in traditional foods;

We stand in solidarity with Mexican farmers and food workers who continue to preserve and maintain corn diversity and their biocultural heritage, and who stand up to resist corporate control of food;

We oppose Canada’s role in the trade dispute that challenges Mexico’s restrictions on the use of GM corn. We oppose the use of trade agreements to undermine democratic rights and prioritize corporate profit-making ahead of the needs of our communities;

We pledge to continue our work together to build a food system where family and co-operative farmers, and food workers, live in dignity, feeding everyone high quality, healthy, safe food using practices that protect our soil, water, biodiversity and other natural resources;

We promote social and economic justice for food producers, and all people living in Canada and around the world.

See a list of signatories and sign the petition.

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