October 29, 2004 -- CropChoice news --Associated Press,
10/28/04: Some 300 Mexican environmentalists
and farm activists opposed to biotech crops demonstrated
Thursday outside a Mexico City hotel to protest a meeting
there of agricultural researchers from around the world.
The demonstrators tossed tortillas and ears of corn
painted with fluorescent colors and skulls at a line
of riot police guarding the hotel, and demanded the
government halt the importation of genetically modified
corn, which they claim has contaminated local varieties
of the crop.
Protesters briefly scuffled with police in an attempt
to enter the meeting, attended by Mexican agriculture
officials and about 1,000 scientists from the Consultative
Group on International Agricultural Research, or CGIAR.
Waving placards reading "Long Live Corn!"
the demonstrators blocked traffic and tried to knock
down metal barricades.
The three-day CGIAR event focuses on stimulating economic
growth in rural areas while reducing hunger and poverty.
The group works to provide improved seeds and better
agricultural practices, as well as providing training
In March, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation,a
North American Free Trade Agreement watchdog panel,
found genetically engineered corn in Mexico despite
the country's six-year-old biotechnology ban.
It said modified genes spread by imported U.S. biotech
corn threaten to displace or contaminate native varieties
in Mexico, the birthplace of corn. Scientists say wild
ancestral genes of corn might one day be needed to help
commercial crops overcome diseases or adverse conditions.
In 1998, Mexico declared a moratorium on planting genetically
modified corn, but farmers are believed to have planted
some imported kernels meant for consumption as food.