Reject attempts to privatize seeds and produce transgenic corn

The Alliance of Ancestral Authorities for the Defense of Biodiversity and Native Seeds, peasant, women’s and youth organizations and the National Network for the Defense of Food Sovereignty in Guatemala (REDSAG), reject the genetic modification and editing of maize seeds in Guatemala.

For us, ancestral seeds and corn are sacred, they represent life and are important elements of the culture and identity of the people of Guatemala. For thousands of years, our grandfathers and grandmothers shaped the man and woman of corn, over time they domesticated the wild grain called Teocintle and turned it into corn, naturally.

According to the study “Origin and Evolution of Maize”, by Dr. Marcos Winter and Mtro. Carlos Álvarez, it is estimated that the domestication of maize took place in Mesoamerica between 9000 and 1500 BC. In the ¨Cerro Mampil¨ of Santa Ana Huista, department of Huehetenango, there are still plantations of Teocintle and Guatemala is considered one of the centers of origin of maize.

Currently, through the monitoring carried out by REDSAG, we have identified that the international trade union organization ¨CropLife Latin America¨, which has five R&D companies as affiliates, a network of associations in 18 Latin American countries and which represents Syngenta, FMC, Bayer, BASF and Sumitomo Chemical, published a video where they report that Guatemala is undergoing validation tests to approve the transgenic corn. According to the video posted on the ¨CropLife Latin America¨ Facebook page, Guatemalan authorities have approved the first genetically edited vegetable with ¨CRISPR¨ as conventional.

The Alliance of Ancestral Authorities, peasant, women’s and youth organizations and REDSAG reject these tests and the genetic editing of maize with ¨CRISPR¨ because we consider that it violates the Food Sovereignty of Peoples and seeks to patent and privatize native and creole seeds. In a video published on the internet by DW in Spanish, activist Silvia Ribeiro, from ETC Group Latin America, considers that most of the ¨CRISPR¨ patents, mainly in agriculture, are in the hands of the seed company ¨CORTEVA¨.

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Due to this situation, the ancestral authorities, peasant, women’s, youth and REDSAG organizations.

we expose

a) We reject attempts to patent and privatize native and creole seeds, especially our corn.

b) We demand that the Government and seed companies respect and carry out prior, free and informed consultations in good faith through the mechanisms of indigenous communities, before carrying out genetic modification and editing tests on our maize in Guatemala.

c) We demand the expulsion from the legal system of the Technical Regulation on Biosafety of Living Organisms Modified for agricultural use.

d) We demand the immediate approval of initiative 6086, which provides for the approval of the Biodiversity and Ancestral Knowledge Law.

The ancestral authorities, peasant, women’s and youth organizations and REDSAG reiterate their struggle in building and defending People’s Food Sovereignty.

Chimaltenango, August 2022

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