MEXICO CITY, 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 for agronomists.
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
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
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.