Honey farming is huge business in Mexico–the sixth largest honey producer in the world.
So when farmers, beekeepers, the Mexican National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, and the National Institute of Ecology petitioned the Mexican government to stop the growing of Monsanto’s Roundup-ready soybeans because it would affect honey production, the government paid attention.
Co-existence is not possible
A federal district judge heard evidence presented by the plaintiffs and ruled that the perceived threat is real and rescinded permits that would allow planting of genetically-modified (GM) soybeans on the Yucatán peninsula: “Co-existence between honey production and GM soybeans is not possible”.
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The permits to allow the planting of Monsanto’s GM soy were issued in 2012 despite the objections of hundreds of members of Mexico’s Union of Concerned Scientists Committed to Society. Very much like federal agencies in the United States, the dangerous implications of GM plants and farming practices of Big Ag have been previously ignored in Mexico.
EU has imposed restrictions on GM honey
Eighty-five percent of the honey from the Yucatán–which represents forty percent of Mexico’s honey–is exported to the European Union (EU), accounting for $55 million in annual revenue. Restrictions were put in place in 2011 that require labels to disclose GM ingredients if the honey contains more than the allowable amount of .9% of GM pollen. Many EU countries go even further and will not purchase honey if it is contaminated by any GM pollen.
Planting GM crops near where bees are raised for honey means that the pollen from those plants will end up in the honey. These crops exist all over Mexico and include soybeans, corn, alfalfa, canola, and sugar beets.
Many countries are following the results of scientific studies on the effects and consequences of GM organisms (GMO) and the chemicals used in their raising. In addition, to maintain diversity and sustainable farmland, farmers are taking a stand against the pressures of GM farming. As consumers are becoming aware of their choices, foods containing GMO may be becoming a liability.
The ruling is a victory for Mexico’s beekeepers, a precedent for others to cite, and encouraging for farmers around the world. The editors of the newspaper La Jornada call out the Mexican government:
“If it is true that the eradication of hunger is a priority of the current federal government, then the starting point must be the recognition of the relationship between the scourge [of genetically modified organisms] and the food-policy model that has been imposed on the entire population, which has transformed the human right to food into the private business of a few companies.”
Monsanto’s permits for GM crops are still active in other parts of Mexico.