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  • A demonstrator carries a basket with corn cobs during a protest march against Monsanto in Mexico City, May 21, 2016.

    A demonstrator carries a basket with corn cobs during a protest march against Monsanto in Mexico City, May 21, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Monsanto's main business in Mexico is developing and selling conventional seeds, but the company is determined to push genetically modified crops.

A ban on planting genetically modified corn in Mexico is likely to continue for years as a slow-moving legal battle grinds on, said a top executive of U.S.-based seed and agrochemical company Monsanto Co.

Last week, a Mexican court upheld a late 2013 ruling that temporarily halted even pilot plots of GMO corn following a legal challenge over its effects on the environment.

Monsanto regional corporate director Laura Tamayo said in an interview that it will likely be “years” before the company can make any progress against the ban.

While Mexico is self-sufficient in white corn used to make the country's staple tortillas, it depends on imports of mostly GMO yellow corn from the United States for its livestock.

Several years ago, Monsanto submitted two applications for the commercial planting of GMO corn in Mexico. Both sought 1.7 million acres in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, the country's largest corn-producing area. Both applications are still pending for Monsanto.

Mexico is the birthplace of modern corn, domesticated about 8,000 years ago and today the planet's most-produced grain.

Critics say genetically modified corn plantings will contaminate age-old native varieties and that toxins designed to protect the GMO grain against pests may be linked to elevated insect mortality.

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