Victories in Mexico for healthy food

Let me share some good news! So far 2015 has been a promising year for our campaign for healthy food in Mexico. This doesn’t mean that everything related to food and agriculture is now perfect in Mexico… far from it! However, I am now even more convinced that we can change attitudes, mobilize people and convince decision-makers to make the right decisions for a better and healthier food system that respects all of us as consumers of food but also that empowers farmers and peasants to practice agriculture in a more ecological and fair way.

This year, Greenpeace Mexico organized a ship tour in two parts that achieved many of its objectives.

First of all, the Esperanza ship helped 15 independent scientists from the Thematic Network of Harmful Algae Bloom, from the Union of Scientists Committed with Society (UCCS), National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and from the Campeche University to sample rivers and coastal lagoons of the State of Sinaloa in the Gulf of California and the Mexican Caribbean. The scientists who have limited access to resources for this kind of research were delighted to search for evidence of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Preliminary results from the Gulf of California sampling will be published by the end of November and the Caribbean results will be ready at the beginning of the 2016.

Claudia Ponce and Omar Arellano-Aguilar, scientists from the UNAM, collected sample in rivers of Sinaloa to identify pesticides and fertilizers used in industrial agriculture processes.  © Enrique Rashide / GreenpeaceClaudia Ponce and Omar Arellano-Aguilar, scientists from the UNAM, collected sample in rivers of Sinaloa to identify pesticides and fertilizers used in industrial agriculture processes. © Enrique Rashide / Greenpeace.

Thematic Network of Harmful Algal Blooms conducted an investigation on board of the ship Esperanza in the Gulf of California to document and expose the agrotoxic impacts, the results will be presented by the end of November. In the image (left) Ernesto Garcia, investigation leader  (right) assistant of scientist work. © Alonso Crespo / GreenpeaceThematic Network of Harmful Algal Blooms conducted an investigation on board of the ship Esperanza in the Gulf of California to document and expose the agrotoxic impacts, the results will be presented by the end of November. In the image (left) Ernesto Garcia, investigation leader  (right) assistant of scientist work. © Alonso Crespo / GreenpeaceThematic Network of Harmful Algal Blooms conducted an investigation on board of the ship Esperanza in the Gulf of California to document and expose the agrotoxic impacts, the results will be presented by the end of November. In the image (left) Ernesto Garcia, investigation leader; (right) assistant of scientist work. © Alonso Crespo / Greenpeace.

Esperanza ship also helped to document the sargasso in Quintana Roo, where continued the sampling to identify pesticides and fertilizers in the water. © Alonso Crespo/Greenpeace.Esperanza ship also helped to document the sargasso in Quintana Roo, where continued the sampling to identify pesticides and fertilizers in the water. © Alonso Crespo / Greenpeace.

While we gave scientists the possibility to gather data and evidence, we also contacted large food companies (Bimbo, Herdez, La Costeña, Maseca and Bachoco) who source some of their products from the State of Sinaloa. Together with over 50,000 mobilized consumers (in Spanish) we demanded better transparency from these companies about the agrochemical use on the food they sell to us.

The second leg of ship tour took place in October in the Yucatan Peninsula (Yucatan, Campeche and Quintana Roo) on the Atlantic side where we are working together with local governments, Mayan communities and NGOs.

Meeting between Greenpeace and representatives of PNUD and others NGOs with the governor of Yucatan, Rolando Zapata Bello, on board the Esperanza, where he made a commitment to implement a state strategy by 2018 in order to protect and develop ecological farming building on the existing 'milpa' system. © Pablo Ramos/Greenpeace.Meeting between Greenpeace and representatives of PNUD and others NGOs with the governor of Yucatan, Rolando Zapata Bello, on board the Esperanza, where he made a commitment to implement a state strategy by 2018 in order to protect and develop ecological farming building on the existing ‘milpa’ system. © Pablo Ramos / Greenpeace.

During his visit on board the Esperanza on World Food Day (October 16), Rolando Zapata Bello, the Yucatan governor made a commitment to implement a state strategy by 2018 to protect and develop ecological farming, building upon the existing ‘milpa’ system. He instructed government ministers to implement governmental support for a transition process to the ‘milpa’ system this year. The ‘milpa’ farming system is based on the cultivation of a diversity of crops – corn, beans, squash and other plants – growing synergistically. (See blog in Spanish for more info). This diversity-based approach is the essence of ecological farming practice.

Mayan communities visited the Esperanza to share their experience about the milpa and traditional agriculture as a way to produce healthy food for people and the planet. © Pablo Ramos/Greenpeace.Mayan communities visited the Esperanza to share their experience about the milpa and traditional agriculture as a way to produce healthy food for people and the planet. © Pablo Ramos / Greenpeace.

For me, it demonstrates that scientists, farmers, consumers, companies and civil society organizations can work together and we can make progress toward an ecological farming system. The road will be long but there is no other path to our future for more nutritious food and healthy rural communities. We all need to learn to work better with Mother Nature since she feeds us.

With the message Yucatan tiene Esperanza (Yucatan has hope), the children also joined to campaign Food For Life in Mexico for a better future, ecological farming trough. © Pablo Ramos/Greenpeace.With the message ‘Yucatan tiene Esperanza’ (Yucatan has hope), the children also joined to campaign Food For Life in Mexico for a better future, ecological farming trough. © Pablo Ramos / Greenpeace.

Aleira Lara is a Project Leader for the Food and Agriculture campaign at Greenpeace Mexico.

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