Caroline Burgeff, Elleli Huerta, Francisca Acevedo, and José Sarukhán
Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO)
The relevance of addressing coexistence between GM, conventional, and organic agricultural production mostly has been driven in industrialized countries by (international) commercial issues and consumer choices. While some of these drivers are also relevant in less industrialized countries, coexistence of the different agricultural options in these countries might be more complex and have indirect consequences that need to be considered in a more integrated way.
Mexico is a megadiverse country and also a center of origin and genetic diversity of many crops of great global economic value, among these maize and cotton. Presently GM cotton, maize, and soybean releases are taking place at different scales in the country. Coexistence of cultivation schemes in maize and cotton represent challenges that should be carefully evaluated. The genetic pool available for future seed development could be compromised; GM constructs have been recently detected in wild cotton populations, while in maize (the main staple food in the country), traditional cultural practices include seed exchange between farmers. For historical and cultural reasons, maize has a different significance to a large part of the Mexican population than any other crop.
On the other hand, cultivation of GM soybean, a non-Mexican crop, has affected negatively the exportation of honey (a major income for rural populations) produced in the southeast, as GM pollen presence has been questioned by importing countries. Further aspects on coexistence issues are discussed in relation to these three cases.
Key words: Center of origin, coexistence, genetic diversity, GM cotton, GM maize, GM soybean, honey, Mexico.