Monsanto patents life

August 14, 2013

Mexico Grants Monsanto Approval To Plant Large-Scale GM Corn Fields
Company Addresses Opponents' Concerns With Museum, Seed Vault Initiatives

MEXICO CITY (Aug 14, 2013): The planting of genetically modified (GM) corn fields on a large commercial scale has been approved by the Mexican Secretariat of Agriculture (SAGARPA). The permit allows the planting of 440,000 hectares of three varieties of GM corn (MON-89034-3, MON-00603-6 and MON-88017-3) in the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango. This is the first time GM corn will have been planted on a large commercial scale in Mexico.

"We are very grateful to the Mexican government for the precautionary measures it has instituted and the seriousness with which it enforces them," said Manuel Bravo, Presidente and Director of Monsanto Mexico. "We wish to thank those responsible for this decision, in particular the President of the Republic, Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto; Enrique Martínez y Martínez of SAGARPA; as well as all the government institutions that are part of the Intersecretarial Commission on the Biosecurity of Genetically Modified Organisms (CIBIOGEM)." (Refer to full list below.)

"Profound steps forward are always accompanied by concerns," noted Gerald A. Steiner, Monsanto's Vice President for Sustainability and Corporate Affairs. "This is natural, and it is natural that we would make every effort to address those concerns. We are proud of our cultural and scientific initiatives in this respect."

One such initiative is the National Seed Vault (Bóveda Nacional de Semillas, BNS), whose charter is to safeguard the 246 native Mexican corn strains from ever being fully lost. The BNS will also include a Maize Varieties Tasting Center (Centro de Degustación de Variedades de Maíz, CDVM), where people can sample many varieties of native corn, as well as 30 varieties of GM corn. The BNS will also make native varieties available to environmental education and preservation groups in Mexico and elsewhere, as well as to eco-gastronomy chefs worldwide.

"The BNS is a great solution to concerns about the contamination of native strains," said a statement by the Mexican Association of Concerned Scientists, a group formed in 2011 in order to address concerns about the distribution of biotechnology in Mexico. "It guarantees that our rich agricultural patrimony will survive for all time."

Additionally, Monsanto is funding the Codex Mexico (Codice México), a digital archive preserving the vast wealth of Mexican culture for centuries to come.

"The Codex Mexico is a visionary initiative that will allow future generations of children to know far more about our lives today than we know of our pre-Columbian ancestors'," noted forensic anthropologist Marcelo Rodríguez Gutiérrez. "Never again will the wealth of this region's culture be lost as social conditions change."

August 14 marks the traditional Mexican birthday of corn. "Monsanto is honored to inaugurate a revolutionary new era in the 4500-year history of Mexican corn," said Bravo. "Even as we preserve this rich history, we will be able to provide many farmers the opportunity to dramatically increase their industrial profitability."

About Monsanto Company

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity. For their role in making this decision a reality, Monsanto wishes to thank the President of the Republic, Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto, as well as all members of the Intersecretarial Commission on the Biosecurity of Genetically Modified Organisms (CIBIOGEM), including: Enrique Martínez y Martínez of the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA); Juan José Guerra Abud of the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico (SEMARNAT); Lic. Emilio Chuayffet Chemor, of the Secretariat of Public Education; Dr. Mercedes Juan López of the Secretariat of Health; Enrique Cabrero Mendoza Director of the National Council on Science and Technology (CONACYT); Luis Videgaray Caso of the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit; Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal of the Secretariat of Economy; and José Sarukhán Kermez Rector of the National Autonomus University Of Mexico (UNAM) and Coordinator of the National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO).

About the National Seed Vault

The National Seed Vault (Bóveda Nacional de Semillas, BNS) will begin collecting seeds in 2014. The Tasting Center (Centro de Degustación de Variedades de Maíz, CDVM) is slated to be open to the public later that year. Environmental education groups and eco-gastronomy chefs interested in acquiring native strains may submit applications directly to Monsanto.

About the Digital Codex of Mexican Customs

The Digital Codex of Mexican Customs (Códice Digital de Costumbres Mexicanos, CDCM) is a currently digital-only repository of records of Mexican culture. It is called "Codex" to recall the Mayan manuscripts, thousands in number, that were irretrievably lost during the Conquest of the 15th and 16th centuries. Plans are underway to expand the Codex from a purely digital affair into a brick-and-mortar museum. Photographers may submit their work to the CDCM by visiting Monsanto's CDCM web page.

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