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GMO crops across state lines bedevil Seduma official

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Sunset over a soybean field. File photo: Getty

Sandwiched between farms in Campeche and Quintana Roo that illegally grow transgenic soybeans, Yucatán state struggles to eradicate genetically manipulated seeds, complains Eduardo Batllori Sampedro, the head of the Secretariat of Urban Development and Environment (Seduma).

The official said that the state government permanently monitors the presence of GMO seeds, which are prohibited in all three states.

Yucatán has been a “GMO-free zone” since 2016, but not all farms are being held to that agreement. Batllori cited Mennonite farm in Campeche and Bacalar with crops of transgenic soybeans.

GMO seeds can drift in the air, contaminating crops miles away, including Yucatán’s native corn, and undermine the bee population.

The battle against GMO crops on the Yucatán Peninsula has been waging for years.

A Greenpeace photo shows activists and Mayans as they form a human chain to spell out the words “ma ogm,” which translates as “no GMO.” Photo: Arturo Rocha / Greenpeace

In 2014, a small group of beekeepers inflicted a blow on biotech giant Monsanto, which has halted the company’s ambitions to plant thousands of hectares of soybeans genetically modified to resist the company’s pesticide Roundup.

A district judge in the state of Yucatán overturned a 2012 federal permit that allowed commercial planting of the soybeans.

The judge agreed with scientific evidence of the threats posed by genetically modified soy crops to honey production in the Yucatán peninsula. Co-existence between honey production and GM soybeans is not possible, the judge ruled.

Mexico is the world’s six biggest producer and third largest exporter of honey. About 25,000 families on the Yucatán peninsula depend on honey production.

A small study conducted in Campeche, where about 10,000 hectares of GM soybeans were planted after the permit was approved in 2012, found GM pollen in some honey samples destined for the European market.

Sources: La Jornada Maya, The Guardian

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