Read the original statement in Spanish.
Download a PDF of the English translation of the statement and view the full list of 302 signatories.
On March 22, 2021 various U.S. food and agriculture industry associations directed an open letter to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representative manifesting their concerns over the decisions made by the President of the Mexican Republic Lic. Andrés Manuel López Obrador regarding the front of package nutrition warning labels (NOM 051) that came into force on October 1, 2020. The American associations argue that this, along with the decree published on October 31, 2020 that gradually phases out the use of glyphosate and genetically modified corn, endangers imports of their products.
These actions are the result of more than 20 years of struggle by the Mexican citizenry and numerous organizations of farmers, environmentalists, consumers, academics, and researchers in defense of peasant agriculture and power of our native corn, as well as the recognition of Mexico as center of origin, cultivation and diversification of species such as corn, chili, beans, squash, avocados, etc., and cultural value that of our milpas (cornfields). In addition, many research scientists have demonstrated the damage caused to health human and the environment by the consumption of ultraprocessed products, the herbicide glyphosate and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
In this sense, as civil society organizations we reiterate our support for the policy implemented to ban the planting of corn transgenic and to phase out glyphosate by 2024, as well as for NOM-051, which enables the implementation of front of package warning labels on food and beverages. We consider that these measures are a necessary and fundamental step for the transition to a healthy and sustainable agri-food model.
In this sense, it is important to highlight that the health crisis caused by COVID-19 is a call to leave the devastating consumption model of the environment and the deterioration of health for another where the center is the construction of comprehensive public policies for our country Mexico, which guarantees the production of food that is healthy, nutritious, fair, and competitive in order to achieve self-sufficiency and food sovereignty. In such circumstances, the measures implemented by the Mexican government have the clear intention of strengthening our food sovereignty, as well as protecting the health of Mexicans and transitioning into agroecological production.
Measures that are based on broad international support such as the 4 per 1000 Agreement implemented at COP 21 in Paris; as well as by the Second Symposium of Agroecology in Rome in 2018, where international agencies, governments, academic bodies, farmers organizations and environmentalists committed to move towards agri-food models that are sustainable and regenerative, not only ensure healthy and high-quality food for populations, but also cool the planet with organic projects.
In the case of Mexico, it is important to note that the front of package warning labels (NOM 051) represent respect for the right to choose what to eat based on clear and simple information, as well as the rights to health and to healthy food. In a context where we are the only country in the world where the Ministry of Health has declared an epidemiological emergency due to obesity and diabetes since 2016, both due to non-communicable diseases associated with malnutrition, on the one hand due to the lack of micronutrients and on the other to excess consumption of ultra-processed foods and sugary drinks. From our perspective, the front of package warning labels represents a transcendent achievement towards the construction of a new agri-food and nutritional model. As noted by Christian Skoog, representative of UNICEF in Mexico, "the labeling approved by Mexico provides the best international experience and the most current and relevant scientific evidence, which might even become an example to other countries that go through this process of struggle against overweight and obesity.”
It is a fact that for multinationals companies dedicated to the food industry, many of the free and sovereign actions implemented by the Government of Mexico constitute an attack on their economic interests, however, for our part, we agree and we back President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in his decision to move forward to make the right to food, to self-sufficiency and food sovereignty a reality, and to move towards an agroecological model, gradually eliminating import dependence on basic grains and therefore rescuing the millennial contributions of our country’s campesino communities and indigenous communities.
We call for support for the measures previously mentioned and strengthening of the Decree that prohibits glyphosate and GM corn, as cutting-edge measures on the international level for those who seek to preserve our food sovereignty, the milpa as a basis for nutritious, healthy and local foods, as well as to return wealth to our land that has been so devastated by the excessive use of pesticides in our fields.
We urge the Government of Mexico not to give in to the blackmail of the associations that, in their eagerness to maintain their profits and preserve their power, have crossed the boundaries of ethics and health, seriously damaging the health, economy and biodiversity of the Mexican population.
We urge the Government of Mexico to JOINTLY build a new model agri-food and nutritional system.
We urge the Mexican population to remain alert to support the front of package warning labels and the prohibition of glyphosate and transgenic corn and to continue defending the national and food sovereignty and our sacred plant: corn.
To continue reading and view the list of signatories, download the PDF.