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The best defense against climate change could be native corn

The best defense against climate change could be native corn

Climate change is already one of the most urgent problems that not only Mexicans have, but all of humanity. The only positive about the matter is that it has become an enemy that unites us all. Our common goal? mitigate it, whenever possible and, believe it or not, there are actions that anyone can take to act against it.

Our identity is fully linked to corn and in many ways, also our future.

Climate change is already one of the most urgent problems that not only Mexicans have, but all of humanity. The only positive about the matter is that it has become an enemy that unites us all. Our common goal? mitigate it, whenever possible and, believe it or not, there are actions that anyone can take to act against it.

Fortunately we have an incredible defense at hand. Its aboutnative corn, one of the most incredible plants and definitely one to which we already owe a lot. It is undeniable that our identity is fully linked to corn and, in many ways, our future as well.

While climate change is one of the great reasons why we are losing our immense biodiversity,paradoxically, it is biodiversity that can save us. And, on the other hand, if there is something we do not want to lose, it is precisely corn, not only because it gives rise to our delicious and beloved tortillas, but also because it is both a metaphor and material sustenance for our cultural diversity.

The plant that evolved from the hand of the Mexicans who have planted it for millennia, iscapable of overcoming pests, droughts and even regulating soil nutrients to survive.Furthermore, the fact that it is progressively improved through the constant selection of the most suitable seeds (carried out by the communities that sow it) makes it incredibly resilient.

So,the almost 60 breeds of corn we have today are a treasure that we have literally grown throughout our history and which we have to support again now, because despite the fact that this plant is vital for Mexicans, native corn is in danger of extinction (and not only because of climate change). At the same time, the movement to save it is getting bigger, bigger and more relevant.

To all this, you will ask yourself: yes, it is evident that caring for biodiversity is vital for the environment, but,Why is corn our best defense against climate change?

5 points to understand why planting native corn could help mitigate the effects of climate change:

Healthy terrestrial ecosystems (such as cornfields) are carbon “sinks” and their existence helps mitigate the effect of emissions.

The milpa, the incredible planting system on which native corn depends, is committed to managing the sowing territories in a sustainable way, privileging that agriculture is not extensive and is not a business that needs to massively cut down forests to survive.

Ecosystems that are healthy and respectful of other ecosystems (that is, non-invasive or extensive), contribute to the general improvement of the environment and encourage the recovery of endangered animals and plants.

Planting in the milpa style is simply more sustainable, as it has a completely ecological approach that favors organic planting, which does not use fertilizers or insecticides. The latter damage the environment by increasing the emission of gases, drying out the land, rendering it infertile, and damaging plant and animal species that live in the planting areas.

Eating native corn, born in the milpa is betting on the collective and local economies, on food self-sufficiency and, simultaneously, on reducing the environmental impact of food: eating from the local milpa means importing less food and, therefore, polluting less with carbon emissions from unnecessary transportation, manufacturing and packaging.

The right combination of hands, soil and Mexican seeds gave rise to a fantastic corn that two American universities and a transnational company are calling their own ...

Corn is the quintessential Mexican plant. Its cultivation is much more than an ancient practice, it has been transformed into a very contemporary act of resistance, becausecorn and its more than 60 varieties are the ultimate symbol of biodiversity of our land and, therefore, also of the cultural diversity that makes us so complex and also particular in the world.

Further,corn represents our intense and indelible bond with the earth, with the field, the place from which life springs; wellthe existence of this plant depends on us and we depend deeply on it. Corn and Mexicans are eternally united. And in this exercise of perfecting each other (Mexican to corn and vice versa), some peasant communities have cultivated spectacular plants, such as corn from the Sierra Mixe of Oaxaca.

Its great peculiarity?This Oaxacan corn is characterized by being resistant to pests and does not need fertilizers. This makes it a real gem for agricultural producers, especially for those who grow food massively.

This incredible quality led to two American universities and a transnational company to pirate the plant (in a particularly illegal way), ignoring national and international regulations and, of course, the community linked to the existence of this corn.

The corn is being pirated!

It was Paris Martínez's investigation for Animal Político that revealed the details of this dire event:the transnational Mars Inc. (Snickers, M&M, Milky Way, Orbit, Wiscas and more) and the Davis University of California and Wisconsin-Madison in the United States published research in a scientific journal claiming to have discovered the corn of the Sierra Mixe, a plant that exists thanks to hundreds of years of traditional seed selection.

And not only did they not discover it, but for the genetic plagiarism that they executed they bypassed the government of Mexico. Of course, the confusion is excessively intricate, there are many institutions taking controversial roles and a lot of misinformation. The article ofPolitical Animal carefully unravels the matter, but above all, it lets us know why this annoying and very dark event is so relevant.

Why is this problem so relevant?

There are many reasons to pay attention to what is happening with the corn of the Sierra Mixe, but the main one is eloquently explained by Dr. Yolanda Massieu Trigo who states for Animal Político: "Creole corn varieties are common goods, they belong to the whole community."

Creole corn is precisely that which is developed by the millenary processes of selection and exchange of seeds, made together and throughout its history by a particular community. So,This corn tells us the way in which that community (and the members that make it up) communicates, shares with neighbors and also the qualities that prioritize or they seek to ensure, by planting corn. Some will prefer certain flavors or textures or colors or qualities such as better withstanding extreme climates or, as is the case, being able to survive pests.

Thus, these maize are in multiple senses collective properties andshould never be singled out as one's discovery or work, least of all in the blatantly illegal circumstances in which this is happening now.

On the other hand, the issue of illegality is super relevant: the way in whichthese organizations bypassed local authorities, people in the community and even the Nagoya Protocol, international convention that protects biological diversity and its sustainable use.

And, if that weren't enough, the statements from the universities and the company are so ominous thatIt has not even been possible to confirm which municipality or town of the Sierra Mixe de Oaxaca the community is from who could have shared (or who had been taken) the secret of his fantastic seed.

What can you do about it?

The issue is very complex, but there are some things you can do to support the cause:

  • Sign petitions and donate to initiatives that defend native and creole corn.
  • Eat the tortilla (and the other corn products) you really deserve: made with the local plant, traditionally grown, by local communities. You will see that they are better and richer.
  • Don't buy junk corn products (made with refined flour) or made with GMO variants.
  • Do not support the economy of the large transnationals, which do not even have the decency to make biogenetic material legally. Remember that when you buy something from someone, you are financing their internship. Who do you want to sponsor?
  • Find out about what is happening and share what you know with others.
  • Speaks out. Remind these institutions that we are angry. Contact UC Davis, Wisconsin-Madison or Mars Inc. here. Let them know that we are watching them.
  • Join the defense of farmers for our diversity, in every possible way. Eat Mexican and make cornfields, remember that it is an act of resistance.

Video: Is Global Warming Causing All Of These Hurricanes? (October 2020).