"We are going to have to get biodiversity into gardens and fields, and then eat it.

Biodiversity is not on the edge of the field or just outside my garden." - Tim Lang


Mexico's native crops hold key to food security

NAFTA Displaced Millions of Mexican Farmers

time immemorial to 1994

Corn or maize originated in southern Mexico where it was domesticated from teosinte, a wild grass.

Scientists at four universities analyzed the DNA sequences of 774 genes in strains of teosinte and corn.

They found that a small group of these genes were alike in all corn strains, but far more varied in teosinte strains.

This implies that these genes, because they shaped corn like traits, were bred for during domestication.

This genetic diversity, directed over the course of 10,000 years by human genetic manipulation, represents some of the most precious and irreplaceable genetic information.

These landraces will survive only as long as the farmers who cultivate them.

Small Mexican farmers who grow corn in southern Mexico are responsible for maintaining the genetic diversity of the species.

1994   A river of cheap American corn begins flooding into Mexico after NAFTA takes effect.

While US industrial farm corporations raise a small handful of genetically nearly identical hybrids, Mexico's small farmers in the past grew hundreds of different, open pollinated varieties, commonly called landraces.

2003   Carnegie Endowment says this flood of subsidized corn has washed away 1.3 million small farmers.

Unable to compete, they left their land and illegally immigrated to the US to pick crops - former farmers have become illegal alien day laborers.

1996 to 2004   Worldwide genetically modified plantings expand to 167 million acres, a 40-fold increase on 25% of global arable land.

Over two-thirds of American arable land grows genetically modified plants on more than 106 million acres.

Argentina has 34 million acres, and production is expanding in Brazil, China, Canada, South Africa, Indonesia, Spain and Eastern Europe.

2006   Presidential election reveals for every maquiladora job made (job made by NAFTA) there are four jobs lost in the Mexican agricultural sector.

poisoning the world

"Biotech companies are keeping university scientists from researching the effectiveness and environmental impact of genetically modified crops." - Andrew Pollack

"If a company can control research that appears in the public domain, they can reduce the potential negatives that can come out of any research." - Ken Ostlie

"Nearly all of the crops in the US Department of Agriculture's database of approved genetically engineered varieties have been modified for résistance to certain insects or to tolerate applications of herbicides.

None has been shown to increase intrinsic crop yields, nor do any have traits for drought tolerance.

Biotechnologists are finding drought tolerance to be a major challenge.

Traditional farming systems have effectively raised yields and improved drought tolerance; they should receive the lion' share of attention as a route to increasing food production." - Doug Gurian-Sherman

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