Home > événements > rapports d'activités > Resisting GMO Imperialism – Events in Mexico – March 2024

This post is also available in: Spanish

Cover Photo credits: Fernanda Estrada González

From March 12-16, 2024, Navdanya International (NI) was in Mexico City with several Latin American organizations, in collaboration with movements in Mexico.

In the wake of Mexico’s battle against the United States to implement a Presidential decree to ban the importation of GMO corn for human consumption, and the phasing out of glyphosate, NI worked to support and strengthen an international solidarity against a corporate imposition of industrial food systems that knows no borders.

Also read: Bio-imperialism vs. Bio-diversity

All over the world the sovereignty of people, farmers and nature has been violated by the imposition of agrotoxins, GMOs and ultra-processed foods, destroying diversity and ancient food cultures along with land, water, and biodiversity.

In March of 2023, NI issued a joint declaration by the women of the Diverse Women for Diversity network in support of Mexico’s struggle, emphasizing the global importance of protecting maize in its center of origin.

The case of Mexico is a people’s attempt to guard their biodiverse cultures, their millennial food inheritance,  their health and the health of their ecosystems. It is a case of a people demanding their sovereignty be respected, and stands as a beacon of hope to places where this imposition continues. People have the right to have sovereignty over their health, and that starts with food sovereignty.


Over the course of these various events, NI invited representatives from movements from Latin America such as Argentina, Colombia, Bolivia, Costa Rica amongst others in collaboration with Mexican civil society organizations, and various Mexican ministries, to help demonstrate that this struggle goes beyond individual countries.

We also saw it as imperative to bring together these movements and voices when we are seeing a new wave of imposition in the form of new GMOs and ultra-processed fake foods.

All over the world the impositions continue to take place, directly violating the sovereignty and rights of people and nature, in favor of corporate agenda. In the face of this, building relationships based on common struggle and common vision of an ecological future help to create international networks of resistance and solidarity.


On March 12, NI President Dr. Vandana Shiva participated in a seminar held by the Mexican Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) and Subsecretary of food self-sufficiency, Víctor Suárez Carrera, and saw participation from: member of the Mayan collective of the Chenes, Muuch-kambal ac, Leydy Pech; José Bernardo Magdaleno Velazco (Nino), President of the Peasant Union, Totikes, Chiapas; Jesús Ramírez Cuevas, general coordinator of social communication and spokesperson for the Government of Mexico; and General Director of the National Council of Humanities, Sciences and Technologies (Conacyt), Dr. María Elena Álvarez-Buylla Roces.

The event articulated a new definition of sovereignty, stating that the denial of sovereignty is denial of life itself, with Dr. Shiva highlighting how the protection of native food systems and native seed is central to the fight for the future. In line, Jesús Ramírez Cuevas declared, “Mexican sovereignty starts with food sovereignty.” Ledy Pech also emphasized, “In Maya, we have no word for GMO, we call them instead seeds that have no heart, seeds with no life. Our seeds, our knowledge is our inheritance, with this destruction what will we inherit in the future?”

The event ended with Dr. María Elena Álvarez-Buylla Roces, presenting the new findings of studies undertaken by the CONACYT on the effects of glyphosate on biodiversity and the toxic load in water and food. She stated, “On a global level the deregulation and imposition of GMOs and toxic food systems is a denial of sovereignty and right to health on multiple levels. Mexico’s success in asserting its own sovereignty on seeds and food policies would be a beacon for other countries to be able to assert their food sovereignty and seed freedom in turn.”



On March 15, NI participated in a round table event organized by the Mexican Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat), which brought together representatives from all over the world, from academics, government officials, civil society movements and indigenous peoples to discuss the importance of protecting biodiversity in their centers of origin and beyond. The event highlighted how agroecology, ecological restoration and indigenous cultures are key to the protection and regeneration of biodiversity.

The event also allowed for a sharing of political strategies in protecting biodiversity, with sharing policy successes and difficulties. With the Subsecretary of public policy and environmental planning of Semarnat, Iván Rico López, opening in the conference stating, “Megadiverse countries, the centers of origin of crop varieties have greater responsibility in protecting the world’s biodiversity. We have learned that our plant genetic heritage is our cultural heritage. Natural and social aspects go hand in hand.”



On March 16, in conjunction with the organization Sin Maiz No Hay Pais, Regeneration International and the Maize museum and Food Culture Center, and the Mexican Secretary of Culture, NI co-organized the event, “Defending Biodiversity, Strengthening Seed Freedom: Resisting GMOs, Seed and Food Imperialism”.  

The event brought together the general public, indigenous elders from Mexico, civil society organizations and leaders from Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico and Australia, as well as Mexican authorities. The event stood as a rallying cry for the global defense of food and seed freedom. With over 800 public attendees, the event helped galvanize renewed resistance, in solidarity with Mexico for the protection of native seeds, biodiversity, health and people’s rights.

The event stood as a testament to the deep connections between cultural diversity, food heritage, and the continued resistance against the imposition of industrial food systems.

The event began with an international press conference featuring Alejandra Frausto Guerrero, Secretary of Culture, Karen Hansen from IATP, Montserrat Téllez from Sin Maíz No Hay País and Leticia López Zepeda, Director of the National Association of Agricultural Producers (Anec).

The press conference covered the state of the Mexican trade dispute with the United States on the US imposition of GM corn and glyphosate in Mexico, as well as the judicial case currently stopping the planting of GM corn in Mexico.

The panel discussed how the Presidential decree to ban GM corn and glyphosate was the result of years of struggle in defense of Mexico’s indigenous food culture and biodiversity as symbols of sovereignty. Now the imposition of biotechnology and pesticides, as well as ultra-processed foods is a new type of imperialism.

Dr. Vandana Shiva reiterated this point, stating, “Free trade agreements represent a form of recolonization aimed at subjecting our food systems to the interests of large corporations. Corporations get rich by stealing our biodiversity; The T-MEC controversy panel is a mechanism through which governments and corporations force the introduction of genetically modified organisms, appropriate native seeds and destroy the livelihoods of peasant communities, and the most serious thing is that occurs in territories recognized as centers of origin. Governments and corporations put pressure on regulatory and legal frameworks to impose their goods as the only option to meet the world’s food needs.”


The press conference was followed by a series of cultural events, featuring Mexican indigenous elders from all over Mexico, in the traditional Voladores de Tlalnepantla ceremony and the ceremony of blessing the Milpa. Highlighting how interwoven food, biodiversity and cultural heritage are to the tending of the Earth.

The ceremonies were followed by representatives of civil society organizations from Australia, Argentina, Colombia, Bolivia, and Costa Rica sharing with the public the struggles of their countries as well as successes against the imposition of GMOs. All to showcase that the imposition of biotechnology, pesticides and ultra-processed foods was an international imposition, and that solidarity must be woven internationally.

The panel started with Andre Leu, Director Regeneration International, who discussed the latest evidence of negative health effects caused by exposure to glyphosate: “There’s scientific evidence about the correlations between the introduction of glyphosate and transgenic crops and the increase in diseases such as cancer, obesity, kidney failure and autism.”

Mercedes López Martínez from Vía Orgánica, Mexico, discussed the great importance of protecting small farmers and indigenous communities as the backbone of a thriving food culture.

 Mauricio García Álvarez of Semillas de Identidad, Colombia showcased the grassroots models and strategies Colombian organizations are taking to protect Colombian agrobiodiversity.

Fabián Pacheco, Director of the INA and Founder of Bloque Verde, Costa Rica, shared the many struggles and victories that Costa Rica has had against the imposition of GMOs and pesticides, including the pledging of hundreds of municipalities to be toxin and GMO- free zones.

Miguel Ángel Crespo of Probioma, Bolivia shared how, “The fight to protect biodiversity and genetic resources is also political, legal and scientific.” and how this struggle has materialized in Bolivia, regardless of the ecological image their constitution as projected internationally.

The panels concluded with Pánfilo Hernández Ortiz leader of the Sustainable Agriculture and Exchange of Experiences from Farmer to Farmer, Tlaxcala Mexico, who expounded on the importance of indigenous and small farmers’ local food economies as the stronghold of defense of native seeds. 

The event concluded with a speech by Navdanya International President, Vandana Shiva, where she highlighted the importance of this event, “Together as global citizens, we come together to stand against GMO bullying and in defense of our seeds. Uniting to resist the forces that threaten diversity and freedom in our seeds. Today, our seed sovereignty is threatened by intellectual property rights and new GMO technologies that have transformed seeds from a commons shared by farmers, to a commodity under the control and monopoly of agribusiness corporations. GMO imperialism has destroyed the lives and livelihoods of small farmers and biodiversity in centers of origin. These centers of origin of biodiversity are the cradles of the world’s food supply, and the protection against plague, climate challenges, natural disasters or other hindrances to food production.

Also read

Vandana Shiva makes an International call to support Mexico in the defense of Seed Freedom and Biodiversity

Events in Mexico: Resisting GMO Imperialism

Joint Declaration in Defense of our Biodiversity, Seed and Food Freedom – Resisting GMO Imperialism

Open Letter from Diverse Women for Diversity to World Leaders

US pressure to impose GM corn in Mexico threatens global genetic heritage of Maize Diversity