As Mexico’s GMO ban looms ever larger, the US National Corn Growers Association is calling for the U.S. Trade Representative to intervene, “before it is too late”.
Thanks to NAFTA and US agricultural subsidies, Mexico has become a major importer of US-produced staples such as corn, rice and beans. In 2021, the country, once the birthplace of modern maize, became the world’s second largest importer of corn. Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador (or AMLO as he’s commonly known) is determined to reverse this trend. Since coming into office in late 2018, AMLO has made food security and self-sufficiency one of the main priorities of his government.
“We have to aim for self sufficiency in food, just as we have done with energy,” said AMLO in his regular morning press conference this Wednesday. “Producing what we consume in Mexico is the best strategy for tackling the problem of inflation.”
US Biotech Corn’s No.1 Export Market
These words were deemed so important by the Mexican government that it shared them on its official twitter account. But they will not have gone down quite so well among corn growers and Big Ag corporations on the other side of the Rio Grande. Nor will the recent announcement that Mexico plans to cut the cost of 24 basic goods by curbing food exports, including white corn and beans, in a big to tackle raging food inflation.
All the while the Jan 31, 2024 deadline for the Mexican government’s ban on all imports of the “probably” carcinogenic weedkiller glyphosate and prohibition of the cultivation and importation of genetically modified (GM) foodstuffs looms ever larger. For US corn farmers and Big Ag corps, the threat could not be greater: 90% of the yellow corn they produce is genetically modified, and Mexico represents 25% of their entire export market.
On Wednesday (Nov. 9,) the Wall Street Journal published a three-paragraph letter from Jon Doggett, the CEO of the US National Corn Growers Association, calling on Washington to “halt Mexico’s trade war before it’s too late”:
The US is a leading corn supplier for Mexico, and 90% of corn grown in this country is biotech, which empowers farmers to conserve the soil and reduce insecticide use. Given these facts, it goes without saying that Mr López’s decree would be devastating for the Mexican people and U.S. farmers. Thousands of growers are busy right now booking seed for spring 2021 planing, meaning that what is purchased this fall be in grain channels as late as 2025. Much of that seed is and will continue to be biotech corn.
Biotech corn isn’t the only crop targeted by Mexican officials. Biotech soybeans, cotton and canola import approvals have also been rejected by Mexico’s regulatory agency over the past year.
And here comes the kicker:
There is a way to resolve this situation before it is too late. The U.S. Trade Representative must intervene and file a dispute with Mexico under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Given all that is at stake, we would encourage USTR to act sooner rather than later.
A Decade-Long Struggle for Control of Mexican Corn
The world’s GMO giants have been trying to crack the Mexican market for a long time. But in 2013, a judge by the name of Manuel Zaleta ruled in favor of a motion brought by a grassroots coalition seeking to safeguard Mexico’s diversity and common ownership of corn. In doing so, Zelata suspended the granting of licenses for GMO field trials sought by Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, Pionner-Dupont and Mexico’s Environment and Natural Resources Ministry. Since then the cultivation of GM corn in Mexico, even in field trials, has been banned.
In his ruling Zaleta cited the potential risks GMOs posed to more than 7,000 years of indigenous maize cultivation in Mexico, which has given rise to a staggeringly rich biodiversity. That biodiversity is vitally important not just for Mexico but for the world as a whole, as argued a 2018 article in Scientific American:
Commercial corn farmers in Mexico planted around 3.2 million acres during the rainy season; the rest—more than 11.5 million acres—was planted by campesinos, the researchers reported in August in Proceedings of the Royal Society. Using previous estimates, [the research team was] able to calculate that in 2010 alone family farmers in Mexico grew approximately 138 billion genetically different maize plants. The domestication of native maize across a wide range of temperatures, altitudes and slopes has allowed rare mutations to take hold that would otherwise disappear, Bellon notes. “Campesinos are generating an evolutionary service that is essential for them, for the country and, given the global importance of maize, for the world,” he says.
Scientists say this type of farming, fueled by traditional practices such as saving or sharing seeds from one season to the next, has resulted in Mexico’s 59 native maize varieties: a cornucopia of husks and cobs of all sizes and colors, from deep purple to creamy-white to pink to glowing orange. This diversity is rarely seen in the U.S.—the world’s largest producer of corn. “You go to a farm in Iowa and there may be three million plants, but they’re all genetically identical,” says Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra, a plant geneticist who studies the evolutionary genomics of maize at the University of California, Davis, and did not participate in the research. Because American farmers buy their seeds instead of cultivating their own, “there’s no chance for evolution to do its thing,” he adds.
Another Trade Dispute?
Mexico is already largely self-sufficient in its production of white corn, which is largely used for direct human consumption, and beans. But it depends on the US for 75% of its yellow corn, which is almost exclusively used to feed stock.
But according to Mexico’s deputy minister of agriculture, Victor Suarez, the country is ready to halve its imports of US-produced yellow corn by the time the GMO ban comes into effect, on Jan 31 2024, and is considering negotiating direct agreements with US farmers to ensure the corn imported is non-transgenic. If true, it confirms Doggett’s worst fears that US corporate interests are indeed under threat.
The US is already locked in a trade dispute with Mexico over the AMLO government’s energy policies, which are primarily geared at bolstering Mexico’s energy security. Now, the US is considering opening another one, this time over Mexico’s agricultural policies.
Last Friday, the US Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, held her first (virtual) meeting with Mexico’s newly appointed Economy Minister Raquel Buenrostro. In her previous role as head of Mexico’s SAT tax authority, Buenrostro spearheaded the AMLO government’s crackdown on decades-old corporate tax dodging, causing uproar among Mexican business lobbies, the American Bar Association and ambassadors from the US, Canada and Europe.
Now, Buenrostro is heading Mexico’s Economy Ministry. After her first meeting with Tai, the US Trade Representative Office reported that Tai had “underlined the importance of making expeditious progress in addressing the issues in Mexico’s energy sector”. She also “highlighted the importance of avoiding a disruption in U.S. corn exports and returning to a science- and risk-based regulatory approval process for all agricultural biotechnology products in Mexico.”
In other words, Mexico’s government needs to quickly abandon its quest for energy security and food safety and self-sufficiency. If it doesn’t, US exports of GM corn to Mexico could suffer disrupted, which could have devastating effects on food inflation in Mexico.
This not-too-subtle threat from the world’s declining hegemony, which happens to be Mexico’s largest trading partner, needs to be taken seriously. The US has shown all too clearly that it is willing to use economic reprisals against any country that threatens its financial interests. And few countries are as dependent on the US economy as Mexico, to which it is more or less joined at the hip.
The US accounts for a staggering 86% of all purchases of Mexican exports. And trade between the two countries has been on the rise in recent years. The ever-growing remittance payments that flow from Mexican migrant workers living in the US to their families back in Mexico are also a vital life-line for Mexico’s economy.
In other words, if it wanted to, the US could inflict crippling economic pain on its southern neighbor. If the consultation process over AMLO’s energy policies does not produce a resolution and the US then wins the subsequent international arbitration process, which it invariably tends to, Mexico could end up facing the imposition of potentially tens of billions of dollars of duties on some of its key export industries.
But any falloff in trade between the US and Mexico, which is also currently the US’s largest trading partner, would also hurt the US. The US is already facing a stagflationary recession and it desperately needs as much oil as it can get its hands on, including from Mexico. It is also rapidly losing influence in Latin America, whose six largest economies are, for the first time ever, being governed by left-wing coalitions. Some of those governments, including AMLO’s, are determined to chart a more independent course. Just as important, the US faces the prospect of souring relations with the EU over its Inflation Reduction Act.
Mexico is also an integral cog in the US’ near-shoring plans. In a speech to Mexico’s Senate this week, Buenrostro said that more than 400 North American companies have shown an interest in relocating some or all of their operations from Asia to Mexico.
Despite the growing threats from Washington, AMLO’s government remains unbowed, at least publicly, in its commitment to energy and food security. The Energy Secretary Rocio Nahle García recently stated that Mexico’s energy balance and policy are “issues of national security.” In light of today’s global energy crisis, the government’s decision to protect Mexico’s state-owned energy companies, Pemex and the Federal Electricity Commission (FCE), while pouring billions of dollars into expanding Mexico’s refining capacity and upgrading existing refineries has proven to be astute.
Now, AMLO plans to do the same with food. In his speech on Wednesday, in response to allegations that a US Republican Senator had threatened Mexico with legal consequences if it does not continue buying yellow corn from the US, AMLO seemed unperturbed:
“There is now a supposed threat, whose veracity we will have to confirm, from a Republican senator who stated that if we do not buy yellow corn, Mexico would be sued or that the law on transgenics would be reviewed. Well, with all due respect, they cannot do that, for we are a free, sovereign country…
As corn, this sacred of all plants, is native to Mexico, we have to take care of the native varieties and not just think about profitability. In addition, there is a growing trend right now toward broader consumption of white and native corn, which we are going to promote. I have heard that high-end restaurants, which I must clarify I don’t go to, are serving tortilla made from native corn, for which they charge a fair price.”
The truth is that the tortilla is an exceptional, extraordinary food stuff. Just take the taco: It has corn, which is a carbohydrate; meat, which is a protein; and the sauce, which is a source of vitamins. It is the most balanced thing there can be.
We have to look after that, take care of what is ours. Just think about how many varieties of corn there are and how many types of food are made with that corn.
Mexico is already largely self-sufficient once again in its production of both white corn and beans. But it is dependent on US imports for a whopping 75% of the yellow corn it consumes, almost all of which is GMO. This year, it is on track to import more than ever.
In other words, much remains to be done if Mexico is to be ready to sever its dependence on US supplies of GMO corn by the end of January 2024. The government will need to find alternative global suppliers. To that end, it is looking further afield to countries that produce and export non-GMO corn, including Argentina and Brazil. But it also needs to ensure that its support of Mexican producers, in particular small-scale farmers, translates into swift, significant, sustainable production increases. But before all that happens, it could face the mother of all legal blowbacks from Washington.
To be successful in the upcoming conflict, Mexico will need to make a big deal of purchasing US non-gmo yellow corn.
Tortillas are to Mexico as rice is to many in Asia or baguettes to the French, if not sacred, a nearly sacred staple. I suspect AMLO will find sufficient support for the ban even if the US tries to force the purchase of genetically modified corporate corn.
Mexico could become a shipping hub where US GMO corn is not consumed in Mexico but passes through and is then sold to other countries to feed their animals.
I see a potential risk in Mexico permitting itself to become a shipping hub for US GMO corn to come into Mexico just long enough to be re-exported to other countries.
And that risk is this: if GMO corn is physically permitted onto Mexican territory even for repacking for reshipment to other places, it will still be physically in Mexico for just long enough for nefarious secret agents to physically divert a small amount of that corn to be planted in secret locations all over Mexico in order to genetically contaminate all the indigenous corn in Mexico.
If millions of tons of GMO corn were imported into Mexico for re-export elsewhere, the secret agents could divert an ounce of corn from every ton of corn to be secretly held back for secret planting. One ounce of corn diverted from every ton would never be spotted by the re-shippers who would weigh their corn by the ton. But a diversion of one ounce per ton from each of millions of tons of such corn would add up to millions of ounces. Millions of ounces of GMO corn would be enough for the secret agents to plant all over Mexico in order to contaminate and ruin all the indigenous corn in Mexico.
If the corn protectors also decided that was a risk of “import for re-export”, they might well oppose such import for re-export in order to prevent that risk.
Putting the long term common good of Mexico first is sacreligious, you don’t get rides on the Lolita Express doing things like that.
Good grief, AMLO probably doesn’t have a beachfront shack in Malibu or a Banker in the Caymans that remembers his birthday fondly.
AMLO simply doesn’t understand what his job really is, THAT’S the problem.
If he’d just listen to the good folks at Cargill, ADM and Bayer/Monsanto …
For what it’s worth, most of Mexico’s yellow corn imports are used for feed.
living in Mexico to get away from the corrupt dominance and profit oriented food system the US clearly suffers from (not that it doesn’t also exist here, just more readily avoided)
If we are what we eat, why feed ourselves chemicals. “…science- and risk-based” is being debunked daily. perhaps the word “fake” before science. The risks speak for themselves.
Yes and I think this is the kernel of a compromise – Mexico could allow imports of Roundup yellow corn but as unfit for human consumption and only fit to feed animals.
The risk here is that unscrupulous operatives could take the GMO yellow corn imported but ” only to feed animals” and secretly divert batches of it and plant it in undisclosed locations all over Mexico, in order to spread GMO genetic contamination into all the indigenous heirloom corn varieties all over Mexico; in a bid to defeat the Corn Protectors by destroying the corn they are trying to protect.
If the Corn Protectors would also consider that to be a real risk from this suggested compromise, they may try to pressure the AMLO Administration into not accepting such a compromise and not allowing GMO yellow corn into Mexico at all under any conditions whatsoever. Which is, after all, what AMLO claims is his policy to begin with, anyway.
Another question comes to mind . . . if Roundup yellow corn is unfit for human consumption, is it really fit for animal consumption either? And is the meat and/or dairy from animals who eat Roundup yellow corn which is unfit for human consumption also unfit for human consumption? Can erstwhile consumers of meat and/or dairy coming from such animals be blamed for wondering about that?
“The US accounts for a staggering 86% of all purchases of Mexican exports. And …other words, if it wanted to, the US could inflict crippling economic pain on its southern neighbor. ”
to nitpick, no. Mexico is holding all the cards.
most of those Mexico-to-US exports have near zero near-term substitutes at current prices
we are talking engines, 100%-complete cars, electrical parts (like the humble capacitor), car parts, etc.
But given the ignorant hubris of DC, sure….why not retaliate against Mexican exports, what can go wrong?
to add, those Mexican exports are from US-owned factories. Northern Mexico is a 2nd Ohio for US automakers
I read that Brazil, the number 3 corn producer in the world, is expecting record harvests. I don’t know if the Brazilian corn is yellow or what, but Mexico may have options for importing corn. And Lula may even accept pesos rather than dollars for the corn.
In 2017 Mexico started buying more of its corn to feed stock, i.e., yellow dent corn. “A rise in U.S. protectionist sentiments and threats against Mexico’s trade with the U.S. have pushed Mexican authorities to explore trade opportunities farther afield.” (https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/mx-negotiates-deal-to-buy-brazilian-corn/)
Brazil is the 2nd largest exporter of yellow corn after the US. It’s on the way to producing two corn crops per year. (https://farmdocdaily.illinois.edu/2021/04/brazil-corn-production-in-three-crops-per-year.html)
Not to be too obvious, but maybe Mexico could buy corn from, you know, Russia.
I don’t know how firm the lines of command and control really are in Russia, so I don’t know that if Putin bans something as a matter of offical policy, it is really banned as a matter of actual fact.
But Putin officially decreed the banning of production or importing of any GMO food into Russia in 2016. If that ban really worked, and is still in force and still works, then any corn coming from Russia itself could be trusted to be nonGMO corn, making Russia a trustworthy source of trustworthy corn. So while buying corn from Russia could seem funny in an ironic kind of way, it could also be a real solution to a real problem.
Here is a link to an article about Putin’s GMO food ban within Russia.
If other corn growing regions were to see Russia getting more and more of the Mexican corn market because of Russian corn’s verified nonGMO status, perhaps other corn growing regions might feel some pressure to assign some of their land and producers to growing and segregating verifiable nonGMO corn to get a share of an assured anti-GMO market.
I recently met a Mexican engineer who works for Volkswagen. VW has its largest production facility outside Germany located just outside Mexico City.
Big GMO will certainly try to get our government to retaliate against maquiladora-based production from Mexico destined for America. But the American corporate beneficiaries of that production will surely push back against Big GMO’s efforts to get all those outsourced-to-Mexico industrial ingredients retaliated
against. Big Auto will certainly try to find out whether it is strong enough to get its outsourced auto parts and whole auto production from Mexico exempted from such retaliatory tariffs.
And if inflation remains a political concern for the Biden Administration, the Biden Administration may well feel pressured by domestic political concerns into exempting oil imports from Mexico into America from such retaliatory treatment as well.
It could be that the only Mexican products which the American government felt permitted by its corporate owners to retaliate against would be those consumer goods which were not outsourced to Mexico but which arose from within Mexico to begin with. Things like Corona beer and Cholula hot sauce and hundreds of other things which I cannot think of by name but which I know exist. Those things could have their prices raised by 100% or more.
And that scenario would give American friends of the Corn Protectors a chance to show their support.
If they had an information gathering and dissemination movement devoted to finding and assembling the names of all such products ahead of time, they could spread that information to all their members and supporters. They could prepare themselves for the retaliatory price rises and they could be prepared to pay the new prices for the Mexican products which they would keep buying and using, and in that way disarm the effect of the retaliatory tariffs.
If Hudson’s Super Imperialism and The Destiny of Civilization are to be believed, the US works to ensure that the global south always remains food insecure in order to “keep them in line” where resource access and US corporate interests are concerned.
Same as it ever was …
It would be interesting if Professor Hudson had a roadmap of how Mexico could pull off breaking out of US dependency.
I don’t think it’s completely possible, or even wise, given that US is the economic powerhouse of the North America. Just like Ukraine breaking economic relations with Russia came with an enormous price (and I don’t mean the war). It’s only rational to accept US is the more powerful partner and that comes with some perks.
Mexico should work towards a relations ship that is more beneficial to Mexico, though. That is easier if other American countries can act as a block to secure their interest. Also a stable political system wary of external pressure and an integrated, multi-level air-defense system may come handy.
Don’t forget the tactical nuclear weapons. Mexico needs them on their northern border to discourage the gringos from acting in a hasty manner.
Go Mexico. And presumably if their exports are blocked those corporate corn producers would have to sell their surpluses here in the States at lower prices. That would be a damned shame.
And if the US retaliates against all those car companies in Mexico they may have to move production back to the US, another damned shame.
Sounds like its time for the deep state to cook up a color revolution.
the excess corn likely won’t find buyers in the US.
As that corn goes to feed and given the cost structure of meat producers (the processing plants hold all the cards), I doubt that most producers would expand production merely because corn prices are falling.
Between farmers who raise GMO crops and large agrochemical corporations, there will be a large and politically powerful constituency in the United States for attempts to crush Mexico’s food sovereignty in this matter.
We therefore need to ask: What U.S. constituency can be mobilized to support Mexico’s attempts to maintain its food sovereignty?
There are several relatively small constituency groups within America ( 1-2 million people out of a population of 300 million is relatively small) who oppose GMO food within America itself for various reasons.
They ( we) would like to see GMO food abolished within America itself. If they (we) could somehow help Mexico abolish GMO food within Mexico itself, they(we) might regard that as a first step towards abolishing GMO food within America itself as well. Perhaps seeing the anti-GMO groups in Mexico as Corn Protectors analogous to the Water Protectors against the Keystone XL Pipeline in America might make the issue clear to American GMO opponents and might inspire coherent support for the Corn Protectors in Mexico.
Who might such groups be? Perhaps the organic farming and food-eating community in America. Perhaps groups like the Organic Consumers Association ( led by Ronnie Cummins) in particular.
Perhaps the organizations and people which make up Slow Food USA.
Perhaps the sort of people who write for the Organic and Non-GMO Report, and the sort of people who read it to follow the state-of-play in the anti-GMO movement and the developers of counter-GMO agronomy.
And other such groups and people.
Assuming they ( we ) even exist, and I think they ( we ) do, what can they ( we ) prepare ourselves to do if the Corn Protectors in Mexico become aware of our existence and ask us for specific kinds of support and assistance? If the Corn Protectors decided for strategic and tactical reasons that their interests would be served if we were to “write our Congressman” over and over and over again, would we be prepared to do such a tedious and boring thing if they asked us to? Because they might not ask us to do that which is glamorous and exciting. They might ask us to do that which is dull and tedious and boring. Would we do it, if they told us that it would help them Protect the Corn?
And if the Corn Protectors never do ask us for any help, can we still do things on our own to reduce revenue streams reaching the GMO Industrial Complex, to weaken it enough that the Corn Protectors can defeat it more comprehensively and totally? Can we begin focusing our buying and eating of corn and corn products away from GMO corn and towards nonGMO corn? Can we reduce or zero-out our purchase and use of products that use or contain inherently GMO corn based inputs, in order to reduce revenue to the GMO community that way? And incentivise more mainstream farmers to switch from GMO corn to nonGMO corn, so as to begin peeling the farming community away from the petrochemical community and the GMO development community?
If mass tourism ever returns to Mexico, can some of those masses make a point of spending some of their tourist and traveler money in those high-end and mid-high-end restaurants in Mexico which make a point of using traditional nonGMO indigenous corn bought from nonGMO indigenous Mexican growers? Can Americans themselves buy more such corn within America itself, from suppliers like this . . .
https://masienda.com/collections/all/heirloom-corn . . . ? After all, the more money steadily reaching the nonGMO corn growers in Mexico, the stronger and more numerous and more politically powerful they can become, so that they might be able to force Mexico to maintain the nonGMO policy even after AMLO leaves office.
It would have to be a multi-year effort to strengthen the nonGMO community there and weaken the GMO community here, to slowly tip the balance of power and tilt the correlation of forces in Native Indigenous Corn’s favor.
Of course the US farmers could revert to previous practices and plant non genetically-modified crops which they could then export to the Mexico so there is that. Mexico is in for a rough patch but if they do nothing, where will Mexico be in twenty years time? There is a another factor at work here. As this post mentions, all of the US crops are genetically identical. In doing so, it means that if there was ever a crop disease that hit the US, all those crops would die. It would be like with the Irish and potatoes back in the 1840s when the blight hit. But Mexico may be a source of salvation due to the sheer quantity of corn types alone. But they do not teach that sort of stuff in MBA schools.
Rev, when you have monoculture you have blights or plagues, it’s a matter of how soon and how nasty.
This may be a watershed moment for Mexico. They’ve got:
a. energy, refineries, and petrochem plants. Fuels, plastics, industrial feedstocks. check.
b. manufacturing. US moved a lot of production, and not just auto parts and assys, to Mexico over the past 40 years. Got mfg’g. check.
c. Brazil makes a lot of iron and steel. Mexico and Brazil can trade steel for manufactures. Got steel. check.
d. Central and South America all need petrochems and manufactures. Got markets. check.
e. Mexico produces a lot of cement; it’s got enormous limestone deposits. U.S. gets a lot of limestone (input to cement mfg’g and iron smelting) from Mexico. Got cement. check.
So, it looks like Mexico could get way down the road toward autarky, and has local trading partners for most of what it doesn’t make for itself.
A great deal of the U.S. housing and construction industries are staffed by Mexicans. They know how to build houses, steel buildings, etc. Got structures. Check.
This will be very interesting to watch. U.S. has a lot of direct investment in Mexico, so shutting down trade between Mexico and the U.S. may not be all that great for the U.S.
As others have noted, the key question is how the U.S. tries to control the political process. That’s Mexico’s major vulnerability.
Let’s contrast what will likely happen (rage-inducing economic coercion) with…
What Could Happen Instead
a. U.S. makes major investments in windmill, solar, renewable-to-fuel-to-electricity technology, and sells the resulting mfg’d products into a very eager market to the south
b. U.S. gets itself off petroleum, and into the hydrogen economy, cutting its dependency on oil imports
c. U.S. re-shores the manufacturing facilities currently in Mexico, and expands domestic manufacturing
d. U.S. develops the next generation of housing construction materials and designs, becomes world leader in energy- and materials-efficient housing production
To name just a few options. There _are_ plenty of options beyond gangland extortion.
This is the sort of stuff we’d talk about if we were to take up the subject of Economic Democracy here in the U.S.
e. US farmers stop planting GMO yellow corn and instead revert to planting what they used to grow before Monsanto corrupted US agriculture practices, and then happily continue to ship their product to Mexico.
a) most of that technology is made in China.
b) Yeah, sure. The large oil companies will go for that, especially as they have been falsifying their ‘green’ image for years now while being as black as ever.
c) Not likely. US industry is mostly in China now. Even if it moved back, there is no trained work-force, and poor basic and further education, and it would all be much much more expensive.
d) what are these ‘next-gen.’ materials? Are they carbon-neutral? And see ‘c’.
a. “most” is not compelling. A current snapshot is most certainly not a fate. Remember, I asserted that we “could” do it, and some are. See Cummins (US) and Siemens(Germany).
b. Oil companies are one opposed force, but a waning one. Boone Pickens, a former very influential oil man, is champion of wind energy in TX, of all places. Furthermore, TX has more installed wind capacity than any other state. Care to update your dismissals?
c. Here you are correct, but your perspective is rapidly obsoleting. U.S. is in the process of finding out that it can’t control China, and to preserve any semblance of rent-extraction potential, it’s oligarchs may (probably will) have to re-shore mfg’g to U.S. Will that bring back jobs? Not so much. That’s a subject for a great deal of discussion. The subject is: … U.S. workers are being systematically factored _out_ of the production equation, and therefore need to redefine their role in the economy. Top-down is no help, so bottom-up has to get its act together pretty quick. Every years’ delay makes redefining and capturing a viable role more difficult.
d. Are the materials C neutral? Depends upon:
a. Where the energy to create them comes from. If fossil, no, if renewable, possibly yes. Also depends upon:
1. How long the materials, and the structures/machines they’re used in last. How durable are the designs
2. How well the materials are re-used. If the products are designed for re-use, then the C component falls markedly
Feel free to contest my assertions over the next few threads. This one’s nearly dead, so I’m not going to invest a lot of time here. Re-introduce your challenge on the next live, early thread, and we’ll get into it.
Looking forward to it. :)
Go, AMLO! Whatever it takes!
The comments about GM foods yesterday were great. From the very beginning, and I was adjacent to several groups who were so-called “pioneers,” it has been clear that GM crops are only a series of “technical fixes” that dovetail with the imperatives of industrial agriculture (sic). Bt corn, Roundup Ready commodity crops, BST-treated cows, industrial pigs and chickens that require massive doses of antibotics to survive to slaughter weight (I originally wrote “live,” but anyone who has ever been inside a CAFO knows these animals do not live). I knew I had stepped into a twilight zone when I had to put on a pair of plastic overshoes and step in a disinfectant bath before I could walk through the “farrowing house.” My uncles on the farm did not have to worry overmuch about that with their pasture-raised pigs, who did live a good pig life. And speaking of industrial agriculture, Here & Now did a story yesterday afternoon about the “driverless” tractor/combine/plow/sprayer/soil compactor that John Deere is working on. The younger 2000-acre soybean and corn “farmers” (they are no such thing) are receptive. But these things are no more likely to actually work than driverless cars. And they will cost in excess of $500,000 when they are ready for the market. One thing though, “right to repair” will make no difference with these monstrosities, because they will probably be unrepairable in the first place…a half-million dollars pissed down the drain, eventually sitting out in the rain, next to the collapsing, abandoned shed as entropy does its thing.
But before that happens, it could face the mother of all legal blowbacks from Washington.
Why not a color revolution/regime change operation instead? It worked wonders for Chile.
I think a good deal could be set up where we take their oil for pittance and then make them borrow in US $ to buy our corn. “Good” in the sense of highly lucrative personally for any Mexican official who backs it.
“I have heard that high-end restaurants, which I must clarify I don’t go to, are serving tortilla made from native corn, for which they charge a fair price.”
Man of the people with a sly sense of humor.
The next time I visit Mexico I will treat AMLO to some high end tacos. :)
VIVA! Nick Corbishley, the NC blog and all the earnest and wise efforts to defend the fabulous maize heritage! In a world where banks, hegemonic schemers and arms manufacturers lead a dance on the edge of WWIII, as they trash the European economy, AMLO’s courage is exemplary.
Do we as individuals have the will and the generosity
to help educate on the costs of NAFTA style rules?
Quite possibly. The range of this blog offers serious opportunities.
In the US we have been trained to think of GMO crops as normal. I am a scientist and do not object to GMO crops that have health benefits. However, GMO corn is just impervious to glyphosate and other herbicides, which allows Big Ag to spray the crap out of them. It doesn’t matter whether you think glyphosate is safe or not, it just can’t be good drenching food in chemicals like that. Plus, soil bacteria and fungi are harmed by glyphosate, which prevents tryptophan synthesis. That probably then requires more fertilizer to make up for the deficit. A lot of people also don’t realize that glyphosate is sprayed on many non-GMO crops to “dry” them before harvest. So wheat, barley and other grain crops are often doused with Roundup right before they are harvested (a couple years ago they tested Quaker Oats and found 1000 ppm glyphosate in some batches, that is 0.1% Roundup!). I personally would rather not ingest Roundup every time I eat or drink something, so I fully understand Mexico’s stance on this.
I was flabbergasted to see the local water agency where I live spraying glyphosate in waterways to discourage the growth of weeds, plants, etc… along the banks of creeks and streams. I asked the person doing the spraying (in full hazmat suit) when on break why he was spraying and was told it was done for flood control purposes. I was under the impression that the Clean Water Act prohibits polluting waterways with toxic chemicals. Apparently, I was misinformed.
This would not help flood control. Plants absorb a lot of floodwater.
This is a big part of why we are moving to a 600-year old Pueblo Magico in a high-altitude farming community (wine, cheese and other dairy, fruit, nuts, corn, beef, lamb, goats…) in central Mexico, and obtaining permanent residency status. Had it with the degradation of everything of real value; had it with Canada.
Don: any chance you could tell us a bit more about the Pueblo Magico, and a bit more about what prep you needed to do in order to fit in to your new home (language skills, etc)
Sounds really nice. More power to you.
Me too. Looking first at Oaxaca and the hills around the city. Just returned from our first trip there, and two features really grabbed me: no existential dread – people are not worried about nuclear war or end-times. These don’t exist in their world. The same people, ethnically and/or tribally, have been there for thousands of years. Many empires have come and gone in that time. And second, there aren’t so many rules. Mexico is a free country. The US is not; I won’t miss it.
But there is a growing population of expats who are pushing up housing prices. Not much downtown for less than 250k. Land around and above the city is dear too, but construction is inexpensive. The Oaxaca valley is 5000 ft ASL, and it rains in the Summer, so temp peaks around 85F. And though it’s a dry climate, there’s no searing heat like California and the deserts from Arizona South.
What is sad (and somehow morally wrong) is that and excess of expats are going to push (price) the locals out of their own area – an area where they and their ancestors have farmed and lived for thousands of years.
I recall a medical doctor describing GMO corn on the cob as a pesticide delivery vehicle. I never eat corn sold in the US because it is nearly impossible to find non-GMO corn in supermarkets and farmers markets.
My knowledge may be out of date, but to the best of my knowledge no GMO corn has yet been approved for direct human consumption within the US. If that is true, and if there are no cynical operators growing GMO corn for direct human consumption and keeping it hidden and mislabled to evade detection, then buying and eating corn on the cob and canned corn and corn meal and corn grits may still permit one to avoid the GMO corn which is officially only supposed to be fed to animals and to industry.
Of course , to avoid that GMO corn, one has to avoid the animals it is fed to, and also avoid the industry it is fed to. High fructose corn syrup, for example, is made from GMO corn. If one wants to avoid eating GMO corn-derived inputs like fructose, one has to avoid eating every single thing that those inputs go into making. Meaning no pre-prepared food of any kind if “fructose” is mentioned anywhere on the label. And no soft drinks either unless they are sweetened with sugars other than fructose. And etc.
Another major sink for GMO corn is ethanol for car fuel. If ethanol for mixing into gasoline could be made optional instead of mandatory, and if the subsidies going to GMO corn for making into motor fuel ethanol could be repealed, then a major market for GMO corn would be taken away and the revenue reaching big GMO would be reduced, perhaps enough to reduce big GMO’s political power.
There is a GM sweet corn being grown and eaten in the US. It was being sold at my local farmer’s market a few years ago. Liberty Link is one name. I don’t know offhand if it’s Roundup Ready, but it is definitely a BT corn.
There is? That’s very bad. If that is the case, then the only reliably nonGMO corn one can eat anymore is indeed certified organic. There may still be conventional corn on the cob and canned corn which is claimed to be nonGMO. But I don’t know how these claims would be discovered to be true or false.
Now, I remember reading that Frito-Lay, a big snack food player, told its corn-growers to move away from GMO corn. And Frito-Lay would have the power to make them do it, if Frito-Lay really meant it. When I do a search-engine search, the page leads off with this little paragraph . . . ” Frito-Lay Co. is telling its suppliers to stop growing genetically modified corn for use in its snack products. Frito-Lay, a Plano, Texas, unit of soft-drink company PepsiCo Inc., contracts with hundreds of Midwest farmers to supply it with white and yellow corn. ”
It then shows links to articles. Like this . . .
maybe there is a way around the paywall . . .
And yet, more recently, there was this . . .
Does that mean Frito-Lay was lying? Or does that mean that Big GMO was planting its corn everywhere in order to contaminate all the corn grown in America, even the trying-to-be nonGMO corn? I think this points to Big GMO deliberately contaminating all the other corn in America, on purpose, in order to win its war of total domination over all of corn growing.
And this sort of contamination is why the Corn Protectors want to keep GMO corn totally and rigidly out of Mexico.
Is this total contamination of all corn still working? Here is a link to an article from 2022 claiming that Frito-Lay is still able to get a little bit of non-contaminated corn for making non-contaminated corn snack products. The article also points to an organization working to test and verify which food-samples show a genuine lack of GMO contamination and which don’t
Or, if one has space for a garden, one can still get nonGMO corn seeds from verified nonGMO corn seed suppliers, and grow one’s own nonGMO corn. Granted, millions of people have no access to garden land of any kind. On the other hand, other millions of people do have such access.
In a world with so much pessimism and so much to be pessimistic about, it is good that a leader and a movement is doing something good which we can feel optimistic about.
AMLO is emerging as a strong leader in the clean food movement, and his country and people are emerging as strong supporters and followers in that same clean food movement. That is a cause for optimism.
There are people in America who support clean food even if they are not an organized movement yet. As someone said up above, this might be a good place where people can suggest things that Americans in favor of clean food can do to support clean food movements where they exist, as in Mexico.
Sin maiz, no hay pais.
If by “clean” you mean non-gmo, the USDA Organic label prohibits gmo’s, among other things, to be used in production.
I tell my friends that want to eat “clean” that an easy way to do that, acknowledging that there are flaws in the system, is to buy organic food.
fyi, I farm 300 acres certified organic grain.
Thank you for this. There is also a parallel though harder way to avoid GMO food as well. And that is to find out which crops, almost all perennials, have not yet been genetically modified. I suspect most tree nuts, tree fruits, bush fruits, cane fruits, vine fruits and perennials in general have not yet been modified and are therefor another way to avoid GMOs, even if not organic.
The solution will be simple. If America decides to threaten Mexico, Mexico will simply open the border to drug traffickers and illegal immigrants, all non GMO. Soft and quiet, but highly effective retaliation. Doesn’t cost Mexico a dime.
I think legalizing Cannabis Nationwide would be a good idea too, cite the experience of California and other US States…
Seriously, this is good news at a time when the survival of our species if not all life on earth are at serious risk.
A little hope is welcome.
I think legalizing Cannabis Nationwide would be a good idea, cite the experience of California and other US States…
Seriously, this is good news at a time when the survival of our species if not all life on earth are at serious risk.
A little hope is welcome.
Is this Mexico’s version of the CHIPS Act?
If I remember correctly, Dr Hudson wrote some years ago that the US deliberately encourages foreign countries to embrace agricultural monoculture and to then supply the US market with mountains of certain foods not easily grown within its home borders. The super profits thus generated lets those folks pay off IMF loans with ease. The US has bulk corn and other grains to supply those foreign countries with their overall foodstuffs needs. Wheat and Korn for Bananas and Coconuts.
The horror that US companies face is that these foreign countries might, you know, decide to grow all their own food and not need anything from US food producers. Argh! There goes a big slab of influence and profit right there if the dumb foreigners living in third-world sh!tholes have enough of their own food to eat a balanced and varied diet. Where’s the money in that?
When NAFTA came into existence in the early ’90s, the US dumped corn cheap into Mexico, and several million subsistence farmers faced ruin, unable to compete on price with industrial korn. That was one observation made by Dr Hudson. Presumably, what Amlo is up to now is to try to somewhat redress this imbalance, so it must be stopped. At Once.
Japan has this similar thing about foreign rice not grown expensively and lovingly on their own soil. But the good ole USA has tried to change that with some varying degree of success.
The Monoculture Industrial Complex has been busy elsewhere, of course. Ripped up all the East Indies trees, burnt ’em to add a modicum of sweet carbon dioxide, and then planted luvverly coconut palms over millions of acres. Extra super special palm oil and coconut milk is just the thing for clogging arteries worldwide but sounds so romantically natural and healthy.
The last free-world frontier has of course been India, where Bayer and Cargill and associated acts want to turn the subcontinent into a vast monoculture agricultural bounty, maybe for dill pickles, who knows. They had Modi pretty much convinced, but a few hundred million smallholding farmers have had the blinkered temerity to resist progress. Life may not be a bed of roses but at least these folk could grow their own food. Not if the US can help it. No, those hundreds of millions need to move off their inefficient farms and relocate to the city to do essentially nothing but die from smog.
I tell ya, resistance is futile! I have spent my life in Canada, the next door neighbour of the USA, and we know when and how to stand to attention and say Yes Sir! to America. We have been the nearby bulk resource for oil and unprocessed minerals. No processing in any quantity allowed here, so we have a dearth of oil refineries and not much industry. We let the Yankee hegemon make those things for us, or as the collective West has done these past few decades, import stuff from a China developed by Western companies based on once cheap labour, and then we complain vociferously when those darn people get ideas beyond their station as they get richer.
The one thing Canada has done quite successfully to booby trap our land against takeover is to pollute our waterways comprehensively. Your average American, indeed your average Canuck, thinks we’re sitting on trillions of litres of pure cold water. Maybe true 60 years ago, but we’ve been busy little beavers since then, ruining things. And still wondering why our dollar is somehow only worth 70% of the Yankee Almighty. Other than a few things like pressing our sale of softwood lumber when the US farmed plantation variety is total weedy crap but owned by the Big Boys who say we’re unfairly low-pricing ours, Canada has on the whole been a good little doggie for US corporate interests. And to this day Americans in border states know so laughingly little about their northern neighbours, including the name of the province they abut, that when they speak of us, it’s always that amorphous blob name of Canada they use. Whereas, we tend to name the US state we abut, rather than refer to them as the amorphous blob USA.
Honestly, if there is one nation on Earth intensely focused on its own navel to the exclusion of having any interest whatsover in other countries and customs and peoples, the USA is that sad sack of a place. It’s why I read NC — at least, judging by comments, the 1% of America that actually has genuine interest in the world outside of US borders seems to be pleasantly over-represented here.
I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For a while I lived on the 18th floor of an apartment building with East-facing windows. On a clear day I could see Windsor, Ontario from my house. ( I could also see what I believe were some truly huge smokestacks even farther away than Windsor. I’m not sure if they were, but they looked like it).
As to India, the Food Freedom and Sovereignty movement is in good hands there. If success is even theoretically possible, they will see to it.
Here is one such leader.
Here is something about her recently founded “seeds of resistance” farm and farm-training institute.
How many countries is the U.S. going to bully on behalf of their multinational overlords? Big Ag is as despicable as the fossil fuel industry. From everything I read, I have nothing but respect for Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He is a wise and courageous leader.