Mexico: Transnational corporations release 800 tons of transgenics by "accident"

Mexico: Transnational corporations release 800 tons of transgenics by

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By Elva Mendoza

The seven incidents - which affected the states of Chihuahua, Guanajuato and Veracruz - reveal the inexistence of biosafety protocols, says the researcher. From 2010 to 2013, more than 800 tons of genetically modified organisms were accidentally released in the country, reveals information from the Inter-secretarial Commission for Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms (Cibiogem), an instance of the federal Executive Branch made up of the heads of the secretariats of Agriculture , Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (Sagarpa); Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat); Health; Public education; Finance and Public Credit, and Economy, as well as by the general director of the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt).

The releases derive from seven incidents that were reported via email or by telephone to the National Service for Health, Safety and Food Quality (Senasica), a decentralized body of Sagarpa. Said incidents would have occurred in three states of the Republic: Chihuahua, Guanajuato and Veracruz, according to information to which Contralínea had access. Monsanto Comercial, SA de CV; Bayer de México, SA de CV; Almidones Mexicanos, SA de CV, and CPIngredientes, SA de CV, are the companies involved.

The transnationals notified the authority of the spill of 712.5 tons of genetically modified yellow corn grain and 90.32 tons of genetically modified cotton seeds. In total, at least 802.82 tons of transgenics have been released into the environment, mainly due to "derailments", according to the Cibiogem report. Without providing further details on the causes of the accident, exact location, applied security protocols and the status of contingencies, Cibiogem reports that “Senasica made the inspection visit to the scene of the incident and determined the security measures necessary in order to avoid, reduce or mitigate the possible risks that this accidental release could cause to animal, plant and aquaculture health ”.

Releases With the spill of 631 tons of yellow corn grain, CPIngredientes, SA de CV, is the company that released the largest amount of genetically modified organisms. On March 30, 2010, the company notified of the derailment, in Veracruz, of 12 railroad hoppers with cargo of genetically modified yellow corn grain from the United States. Together with National Starch, CPIngredientes forms Ingredion Incorporated.

The company processes corn, tapioca, wheat, potatoes and other raw materials into ingredients for the food, beverage, brewing, pharmaceutical, and industrial sectors. Among the products offered are sweeteners, such as dextrose or high fructose corn syrups (replacement of sugar in soft drinks and fruit juices); starches; Soluble fiber; stevia; saccharin; aspartame; glucose; polyols (sugar-free, low-calorie alternative sweeteners), biomaterials; corn oil, which can be used in lotions, creams, baby powder, makeup, shampoo, and agro-products for animal feed such as germ paste, gluten or corn bran.

According to the website of the global company based in Westchester, Illinois, Chicago, and with a presence in North America, South America, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Ingredion Incorporated says it is committed to the environment. "Having socially responsible operations and suppliers, and focusing on the safety and prosperity of our people, partners and the communities in which we operate."

Almidones Mexicanos (Almex) is the second company with the highest amount of genetically modified organisms released into the environment. On August 18, 2010, it reported the spill of “approximately 20 tons” of genetically modified yellow corn grain in Guanajuato, due to the derailment of eight railroad hoppers.

A month later, on September 8, 2010, Almex reported a new derailment incident. In the accident, registered at kilometer A-430 –between León and Pedrito– District of the Central Mexico Division in the state of Guanajuato, 20 tons of yellow corn with “possible” genetic modification would have been released. Two years later, on May 10, 2012, Almex released 41.5 tons of genetically modified yellow grain from the United States, due to the derailment of four railroad hoppers that occurred in the municipalities of Silao and Fausto Rodríguez, also in Guanajuato. Established since 1960, Almidones Mexicanos, SA de CV, is a company dedicated to the manufacture and commercialization of corn derivatives. Among the products it offers are starch, glucose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, forages, and edible corn oil, a product marketed by Promotora de Productos y Mercados Mexicanos, SA, one of the subsidiaries of Almex Bajo the Maceite brand. In 2005, Almex received ISO-9001: 2000 certification, and in 2010, ISO-22000.

Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Tate and Lyle are shareholders of the company that, according to its website, is committed to well-being, health, life, the environment and safety. Bayer and Monsanto release transgenic cotton More than 90 tons of modified cottonseed were dumped in three accidents.

The last one was registered in December 2013 on kilometers 187 and 188 of the Chihuahua-Delicias highway, in Chihuahua. On January 7, 2011, also in Chihuahua, Monsanto Comercial, SA de CV, and Bayer de México reported the accidental spill of 66.32 tons of cottonseed that contained genetically modified material. On January 27, 2012, Monsanto Comercial again reported an incident in that state, in which 4 tons of the genetically modified organism were spilled.

Cibiogem and Senasica According to Cibiogem and Senasica, the seven accidents registered in the National Information System are the only ones that have occurred in the national territory since the arrival of transgenics in the country. In a written response to Contralínea, both agencies argue that "all cases were dealt with by implementing [sic] the pertinent biosecurity measures [...] In general, by collecting and monitoring voluntary plants for their elimination."

Regarding costs, they point out, they are purely administrative: “They include processing the notice, sending formal notifications when appropriate, and supervising the implementation [sic] of the necessary actions and measures. The operating costs are usually assumed by the interested party or person in charge, depending on the case ”. Regarding the sanctions to which the companies that have accidentally released transgenics have been credited, the agencies respond that the Law of Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms (LBOGM) does not typify sanctions for accidental releases, but rather the execution of biosecurity measures.

“Article 121 establishes as a condition for applying sanctions that those responsible must have‘ full knowledge ’, a situation that is not fulfilled in accidental releases, since conceptually they are not predictable or intentional.

Article 119 of the LBOGM establishes in its section XXII as an offense not to apply the measures ordered by an authority (Semarnat or Sagarpa), and article 120 establishes a fine of 15 to 30 thousand minimum wages if this assumption is incurred. To date, all the incidents have carried out the ordered biosecurity measures. "

For José Antonio Serratos, member of the Union of Scientists Committed to Society, professor at the Autonomous University of Mexico City, the registered accidents question the existence of minimum biosafety parameters in the country.

The also an expert researcher in biotechnology emphasizes that accidents are risk factors, sources of contamination, because they could generate the reproduction of transgenic seeds.

"The quantity is striking." In addition, they are very convenient for transnational companies that have the industrial property of the spilled grains. “They are living organisms. The origin and transfer must be fully regulated and especially in the Center of Origin and Genetic Diversity of both corn and cotton ”.

Video: Overview of the Commons by David BollierArt and Survival 2016Double Edge TheatreAugust 6, 2016 (June 2022).


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