lunes, 26 de octubre de 2009

OMG GMO! or requiem for corn.

Just this last week, Mexican Government approved 15 out of 35 permits that will enable GMO corn planting. The beneficiaries of such permits are Monsanto and Dow AgroScience. This news has been received in a couple different ways. On one hand Greenpeace has strongly objected to this, arguing that SAGARPA (Secretary of Agriculture) is ignoring international agreements and advice from experts in the field. On the other hand, mainstream press personalities have expressed their approval of the motion. Their argument: that this will improve the yield of our fields, enabling a sort of "Argicultural Revolution".

I for one, find the move appalling. I believe that the press is missing on some big issues such as quality of the produced food, and where the revenue from that nasty corn is going. It's definitely not going into the poor journeyman's pocket. And that is where all the problem spawns. For a good deal of our history, we have had a history of exploiting the people tending to our fields. And it has been the greed of the people buying dirt cheap products from them that has led to the ruined state our fields are in. Take Vanilla, for example. Veracruz is the home of Vanilla, and for decades, Papantla vanilla was regarded as the best available. Seeing that their product was in demand, sellers (not the growers) entice extract producers to start messing with the product. Buyers notice and demand for our vanilla spirals down, resulting in being perhaps third-string option. Gladly, as with Coffee, responsible growing and movements like Fair Trade have started their rescue of Vanilla.

With corn, however, the outlook is definitely stark. I had the chance of meeting Diana Kennedy, recently. She asks: how can a country as rich as ours embrace a crap product like Maseca? We've just embraced worse. Lots of mexicans don't know what nixtamal tastes like. Now, I am reminded of David Patterson when I feel we're en route to forget corn.

The only word I can think of to describe what's going on right now is shameful. Eight years ago, when I was in France, you could see the strength of the anti-GMO shift. Producers were proudly boasting: Non-GMO in their labels. We seem to be bidding them welcome.

Need more? How about watching Michael Ruhlman and Dan Barber at Chautauqua. Mr. Ruhlman goes, as Mr. Patterson earlier, into detail about why the corn produced by the mass industries is wrong, even explaining how it affects the rest of the food chain. Chances are, you already read Michael Ruhlman's Blog but as I said earlier: if you don't, start doing so.

Finally, a big Thank You to Donna Turner Ruhlman for kindly letting me use her "Ear of Corn" picture. See more of her amazing work at