|Native corn seeds, saved from year to year.|
Almost 600 campesinos from across Mexico, representing most of the indigenous peoples of the country, gathered with international figures such as Drs. Ignacio Chapela and Vandana Shiva to demand redress for contamination of their native corn varieties before a panel of international and local “judges”. The two day event in late April began with colorful processions led by a village brass band, indigenous women in traditional dress, and a Mayan priestess who led a special rite of blessing of the four directions and of an altar prepared on the ground of the myriad colors of native corn arranged in a
special pattern in the center of the gathering. Sacredness and fiesta illustrated how deep the culture of corn, of community, and of celebration is embedded in the indigenous pueblos, even in time of struggle and protest.
Declaring that “it is the sacred corn that takes care of our communities and is the one who has permitted us to live and resist during thousands of years”, speaker after speaker, all campesino women and men, denounced the efforts of governments to reduce corn to a thing, into merchandise, an object which is merely bought and sold to the highest bidder. They recounted how patented genes of GM corn have caused deformations in their native corn varieties and how these corns threatened not only to destroy the biodiversity represented by native corn, but to displace native corn from the market.
|Pedro and Catalina at the CEDICAM experimental|
gardens, Nochixtlan, Oaxaca