What is in this article?:
- Mexico on verge of agricultural revolution
- Access to GM
- Mexico has a remarkable opportunity to join the revolution in farming that is sweeping the rest of the world.
Mexico, the native home of corn, soon will enjoy a new beginning–and has a remarkable opportunity to join the revolution in farming that is sweeping the rest of the world.
Last month, Mexican voters elected Enrique Peña Nieto as our next president. The former governor of Mexico’s biggest state will take office in December.
Most of the political commentary has focused on the partisan basics: Peña Nieto’s triumph marks a return to power for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which governed Mexico for more than 70 years before the National Action Party (PAN) won a historic presidential victory in 2000.
Peña Nieto now must confront a series of daunting challenges involving the economy, corruption, and drug-war violence.
He should also tackle agricultural reform–and in particular, he should push for greater acceptance of genetically-modified crops. Mexico previously benefitted from the 20th century’s Green Revolution. Now it’s time for my country to enter the 21st century and embrace the Gene Revolution.
Peña Nieto must guide us there.
To a limited extent, Mexico already has accepted the Gene Revolution. In 2011, its farmers planted more than 430,000 acres of biotech crops, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA). This was a staggering upsurge of 146 percent over the previous year, a rate of increase that led the world.
But it’s easy to lead the world when you start out small. This is Mexico’s main biotech problem: Its GM acreage is still puny. A tiny country like Africa’s Burkina Faso grows more GM crops than we do. So does Myanmar, in Southeast Asia.
Although Mexico has grown GM crops for years, our government has limited the types of GM plants that our farmers can grow. As a result, GM cotton is widely used but other crops–including corn, with its incredible biotech potential–remain out of reach for most farmers.
Even among Latin American countries, we trail in biotech acceptance. Argentina and Brazil are global leaders in GM crop production. They’re farming powerhouses, so perhaps it’s not entirely fair to compare Mexico to them. Yet Mexico doesn’t even finish third. Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay also grow more GM crops. That puts us in sixth place. If we remain complacent, we’ll fall further behind as Chile, Colombia, and Honduras overtake us.