For Immediate Release: April 29, 2021
Washington, DC — Today, 80 U.S. organizations delivered a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai, opposing the interference by U.S. government officials and agribusiness interests in Mexico’s planned phaseout of glyphosate and genetically modified corn. Organizations included American farmer, worker, consumer, public health, sustainable agriculture, and other food systems research and advocacy groups. Further, over 6,900 petition signatures from concerned individuals were delivered as well.
As revealed by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the Center for Biological Diversity, under the Trump administration, public officials at USTR and USDA strategized with agrochemical industry representatives from CropLIfe America and Bayer AG (which produces glyphosate) on ways to urge the Mexican government to rescind its policy decisions. After, USTR warned Mexico’s Minister of Economy that Mexico’s actions threatened the “strength of our bilateral relationship.”
“We call on Secretary Vilsack and Trade Representative Tai, as key leaders in the new administration, to respect Mexico’s decision to protect both public health and the integrity of Mexican farming,” says Kristin Schafer, Executive Director of Pesticide Action Network North America. “It is completely unacceptable for U.S. public agencies to be doing the bidding of pesticide corporations like Bayer, who are solely concerned with maintaining their bottom line profits.”
Signees of the joint letter and petition to USTR and USDA urged that the agencies should respect Mexico’s sovereignty and refrain from interfering with its right to enact its own protective policies. The U.S. groups and individuals echoed concerns from agricultural and civil society organizations in Mexico:
“We reject the pressure from corporations such as Bayer-Monsanto — and their CropLife trade association — which are working in both the United States and Mexico to undermine the presidential decree that phases out the use of glyphosate and transgenic corn,” declared Fernando Bejarano, director of Pesticide Action Network in Mexico (RAPAM). Bejarano went on to explain, “We are part of the No Maize No Country Campaign, a broad coalition of peasant organizations, non-profit NGOs, academics and consumers, which support the presidential decree and fight for food sovereignty with the agroecological transformation of agricultural systems that guarantee the right to produce and consume healthy, nutritious food, free of pesticides and transgenics.”
Pesticide Action Network North America works to create a just, thriving food system. PAN works alongside those on the frontlines of pesticide exposure — from farmworkers to rural communities to beekeepers. PAN links local and international consumer, labor, health, environment and agriculture groups into an international citizens’ action network. Together, we challenge the global proliferation of pesticides, defend basic rights to health and environmental quality, and work to ensure the transition to a just and viable food system.