NAFTA has forced millions of subsistence farmers to migrate to other parts of Mexico and the US. Before NAFTA went into effect in 1994, Mexican farmers had been protected from the inexpensive, low quality, and mass-produced corn grown in the US.
The purpose of my paper is to demonstrate that corn grown in the United States has flooded into Mexico and displaced traditional Mexican agricultural workers. The Maize Maze in Mexico does not fit into one particular subject, but is rather an interdisciplinary paper with elements of anthropology, ecology, and political economy. Starting with the rich cultural traditions directly related to maize, I detail the long history and importance of maize and subsistence farming to the people of Mexico.
At the heart of this paper lie the affects that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has had on Mexican cultures, communities, and farming. NAFTA has forced millions of subsistence farmers to migrate to other parts of Mexico and the US. Before NAFTA went into effect in 1994, Mexican farmers had been protected from the inexpensive, low quality, and mass-produced corn grown in the US. US corn not only drives down the price of corn in Mexico, it also erodes the vast genetic diversity of maize since people can no longer afford to maintain the diversity through traditional growing methods.
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[ Image detail from “Biodevastation” poster created by the Beehive Design Collective. ]
Sunday the 25th of June 2001 was the day the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) began a conference to discuss the use of biotechnology in the future. BIO consists of representatives from the world’s largest and most influential multinational agricultural and pharmaceutical corporations, as well as some smaller national corporations. These corporations all share the desire to use biotechnology as a tool to create and patent genetically modified forms of life in their effort to make enormous profits all around the world.
In response to the BIO conference, political and social activists of all ages, well respected authors, dedicated farmers, investigative reporters, university educators, students, parents and workers joined together at a church in the Hillcrest section of San Diego and then at San Diego City College to learn from each other about the harmful repercussions of biotechnology and promote sustainable organic farming methods. The event was called Beyond Biodevastation and 2001 was the fourth year that people came together for this annual teach-in and demonstration. Many in attendance were local to San Diego, while other people traveled from the eastern United States and other countries such as India. It was wonderful to experience all the people gathered together, sharing their ideas with one another in discussions and by distributing written pamphlets, books, newspapers, bumper stickers, and t-shirts. The display of amazingly artistic murals and street theatre performances were inspiring, informative, and entertaining.
Continue reading “Beyond Biodevastation: Through the Mind and Eyes of a Demonstrator”