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Guatemala mass mobilisations win in defeating the “Monsanto Law” pushed by US

Huge victory against GMOs and traditional knowledge loss in Guatemala, where mass mobilisation makes the Congress repealed the Monsanto Law


In October 2014, after months of protests in the streets, the Guatemalan congress voted to repeal what was known as the ‘Monsanto Law,’ a Plant Variety Protection (PVP) law that would have made it illegal for farmers to reproduce seeds of privatised varieties. Prior to the announcement, the Constitutional Court had already agreed to suspend certain articles of the law. Farmers’ organisations had filed a lawsuit arguing that the law was unconstitutional because it violated Mayan peoples’ right to the traditional cultivation of their land and mass mobilisations started across the country. Taking the streets in the capital, farmers also blocked some of the main roads in the country. Even schools were closed in some communities so that the students could join the protests. Also artists and television celebrities have joined an online signature campaign to reject the law. The petition was addressed to the President, Otto Perez Molina, via the Avaaz website, and argues that the law is unconstitutional: "this law violates articles of the Constitution relating to the Protection of Individuals, Cultural Identity, Natural Heritage, Right to Health, the principles of the Economic and Social Regime, in addition to the obligation of the state to protect consumers."(1) The Monsanto Law had been introduced as required by the US-Dominican Republic-Central America free trade agreement (CAFTA) ratified by Guatemala in 2005. It is a free trade agreement between Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and the United States, which indeed requires signatories to adhere to the International Convention for the Protection of New Plant Varieties.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Guatemala mass mobilisations win in defeating the “Monsanto Law” pushed by US
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Biopiracy and bio-prospection
Specific commodities:Seeds
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:26/06/2012
End of the conflict:11/2014
Company names or state enterprises:Monsanto Corporation (Monsanto Co) from United States of America
Dupont from United States of America
Syngenta from Switzerland
Relevant government actors:- Patriotic Party
- Renewed Democratic Freedom
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Rural Studies Collective (Cer-Ixim)
- National Alliance for Biodiversity Protection
- Millones contra Monsanto
- Association of Women Moving Sololá
- Asociacion Raxch’ och’ Oxlaju Aj (AROAJ)
- Colectivo Social por el Derecho a la Alimentación
- Indigenous Observatory
- Maya Ukux Be association
- Guatemalan Peasant Indigenous Workers Movement (MSICG)
- National Network in Defense of Food Sovereignty in Guatemala (REDSAG)
- Latin American Agroecological Movement (MAELA)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Thank of the mass mobilisation, the Constitutional Court has intervened and has declared unconstitutional the Monsanto Law, forcing the Guatemala congress to vote to repeal the law.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Decreto 19-2014, ¨Monsanto Law¨
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Web site of the network Millones contra Monsanto
[click to view]

(2)GRAIN, Guatemala: mass mobilisations won a victory over a Monsanto Law
[click to view]

(1) Global Research, Guatemala Rejects U.S. Trade Law Protecting Monsanto and GMOs
[click to view]

Colectivo Social por el Derecho a la Alimentación - Comunicado ante Ley Monsanto
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

street protest against the Monsanto Law
[click to view]

Nim Sanik, Maya Kaqchikel giving a press conference Chimaltenangro
[click to view]

Lolita Chavez, Maya Quiché outside the Constitutional Court in Guatemala City
[click to view]

street protests against seeds privatisation
[click to view]

In Sololá, hundreds of campesinos mobilised to oppose the “Monsanto Law”
[click to view]

photo of an activist protesting
[click to view]

street protest in Guatemala City
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Carolina Modena
Last update05/08/2015
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