After receiving pressure from Mayan beekeepers and environmental organizations, a judge in Mexico has banned Monsanto from planting thousands of hectares of genetically modified soybeans in the Yucatan peninsula.
In 2012, Mexico’s agriculture ministry, Sagarpa, and its environmental protection agency, Semarnat, issued Monsanto a permit for planting soybeans that had been genetically modified to resist Roundup, a pesticide also produced by Monsanto.
The recent ruling of the judge has overturned these permits because of the threat the GM crops pose to the country’s honey industry.
According to The Guardian, the judge said that the country’s honey production and GM soybeans could not co-exist.
Mexico is the third largest exporter of honey in the world, and almost all of its honey is exported to the EU. In 2011, the EU imported over $50 million worth of Mexican honey.
GM crops pose an ominous threat to the Mexican honey industry, as most European countries restrict the sale of honey containing pollen collected from GM crops. Germany, in particular, is one country that bans honey containing any GM pollen, while other European countries approve trace amounts of GM pollen in honey.
If Monsanto were to plant thousands of hectares of GM soybeans in Yucatan, the area’s honey would be tainted with GM pollen, thereby significantly decreasing the amount of honey that could be exported to Europe.
The Mexican constitution played a large role in the judge’s ruling, as it states that the government must consult indigenous groups before making a decision that could affect their territory. Since the indigenous farmers in the Yucatan peninsula were not consulted regarding the planting of GM soybeans in their area, the judge revoked the planting permit.
In addition to the Mayan beekeepers in the area, organizations like Greenpeace and the Mexican National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity protested Monsanto’s plan to infest the area with GM soybeans.
While the beekeepers have won their first battle, Monsanto will most likely take their case to a higher court in hopes for a more favorable ruling.