US accused of dumping GM maize in Mexico

Nuevo Laredo, MEXICO, August 18, 2003: Environmental-protectionist group Greenpeace caught a trainload of US maize as it tried to enter Mexico today. The group intercepted the train in response to suspicions that the US was dumping genetically engineered crops across the border contravening international agreements.

Activists suspended themselves from the train's axles to hang below the railway bridge over the Rio Grande - the Mexican-US border - while Greenpeace representatives negotiated with the Mexican Government for a ban on the US dumping of genetically engineered maize into Mexico.

Scientific analysis, released today, from an independent US laboratory of US maize samples entering Mexico showed that almost a third of the maize contained varieties from biotechnology giant, Monsanto. The Cartagena Protocol, an international agreement on biotechnology signed January 2000, clearly states that countries must take action to prevent adverse effects of GE crops on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

"Mexicans are being forced to swallow the destruction of our number one food source, and the health and environment of the people who depend on it, because governments around the world stand back and allow the US to force their trade and biotechnology corporations' interests on other countries," said Liza Covantes, campaigner from Greenpeace Mexico.

There is growing concern among farmers and consumers over the contamination of traditional seed by gm varieties as the two co-exist in ever tightening quarters. International agreements like the Cartagena Protocol were designed to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by biotechnology.

The Protocol, which has currently been ratified by 54 countries, including Mexico, was never signed by the US.