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Rick Bayless Says Mexico Ending Its GMO Ban Is 'Immeasurable Cruelty'

By Anthony Todd in Food on Aug 27, 2015 6:49PM

Rick Bayless is a staunch good food advocate, but he's not given to hyperbole or political hysteria. So when he says something is bad, it at least deserves our attention.

Writing on Good Food On Every Table, Bayless decried the recent overturning of the ban on GMO corn in Mexico. On Aug. 20, a Mexican court overturned a ban on GMO Maize that had been in place since September of 2013.

Bayless's concern is not necessarily about the danger of GMOs (in fact, he makes clear that he thinks the issue is "way more complex and less straightforward than some may suggest"), but about the loss of the many heirloom varieties of Maize throughout Mexico.

GMO corn is so seductive to farmers. It’s usually easier to grow, more disease resistant and more productive. Why bother, then, with all the hundreds of local varieties, each evolved to provide Mexico’s grain staple for a unique parcel of land, a unique climate, a unique community?

In the United States, farmers and consumers are only now coming to appreciate the thousands of heirloom varieties of vegetables, many of which were nearly allowed to go extinct because of crop consolidation. Indeed, many of these vegetables are still on the verge of disappearing. Bayless is worried the same may happen to Mexico.

Will we see that Mexico’s beautiful diversity has faded into bland homogeneity, bland and characterless as the lab-manufactured corn that’s providing daily nourishment?

If you're interested in this issue, read his whole piece. In the meantime, Bayless's restaurants import organic landrace corn from Michoacan, if you want to get a taste of what he's talking about.