Monsanto Loses Key Battle Against Mexican Indigenous Groups Over Planting Its GMO Soy
It’s difficult to overstate just how fiercely the game is rigged in favor of the powerful and wealthy.
Just in case you weren’t paying attention: in 2008 Wall Street got bailed out of a mess of its own making to the tune of trillions of dollars while millions of Americans got nothing and lost their homes; the Supreme Court ruled that unlimited money is allowed in political contributions, and Big Pharma continues to make headlines by continuing to gouge the sick, as evidenced by the latest, the EpiPen scandal and its 600 percent price hike.
That’s why it is such a refreshing feeling when you come across a story in which Jack slays the Giant, winning one for the little guy.
That’s just what happened in Mexico this week, when a court ruled that Monsanto’s license to grow some 250,000 hectares of genetically modified soy in the Yucatán Peninsula would be suspended pending approval of indigenous communities living in the area. Also, the judge ruled that any future permits that the agrichem giant might apply for in the future would have to undergo the same scrutiny, citing Mexican constitutional law that requires the consideration of indigenous communities that might be affected by development projects.
Among the groups who lined up against the biotech giant was a group called the Maya Beekeepers, composed of about 15,000 Maya families who produce honey. They filed for the injunction with the support of Greenpeace, Indignación, and Litiga OLE.
The groups cited concern with the use of glyphosate, which the GMO crops are engineered to be able to withstand, the cancer-causing chemical that has come under intense scrutiny worldwide of late.
Predictably, Monsanto spokesmen held to the party line, claiming that their GMO crops and their profligate use of glyphosate has no effect on bee populations–this, despite the mounting evidence to the contrary and the shocking die-off of some 44 percent of U.S. bee colony populations last year. The company has also had accusations of deforestation leveled against it in the Mexican state of Campeche, where it is pursuing other agri-chemical business.
But the fight against this particular Goliath is far from over. This is but one victory, a battle in a war that continues. Monsanto has been fighting since at least 2013 to get the Mexican government to rescind its ban on GMO maize, and actually achieved that for a time, before an appeal to a new court overturned the overturning of the ban.
Thus, companies like Monsanto play the long game. While it is certainly a cause for celebration, we would do well to keep in mind that the victory for the indigenous people of the Yucatán does not mean that Monsanto is going to take its ball and go home.
Much like the poisonous PCBs with which the company saddled much of the U.S. and the world a generation ago, Monsanto plans to hang around a long time, infecting everything that it can get its hands on.