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Mayan beekeepers against Monsanto transgenic soya, Campeche, Mexico

"We Mayans are alive, we Mayans are fighting and it is a struggle for life". Not only a struggle against Monsanto, but against the agro-industrial development model that has been imposed on us.


Monsanto Co. genetically modified soybean commercial plantations are grown in 9 Mexican federal states mainly for the production of human-edible oil and animal food for national market. From 2000-2009, production of Monsanto Co. soybean took place under the status of ‘experimental’ stage- allowing for planting of a GMOs for experimental purposes including use of containment measures to restrict its contact with the population and the environment (Mexican federal Biosafety Law, 2005). In 2010 and 2011, the experimental plantations became a ‘pilot program’ that allows production of GMOs with or without containment measures (GMO Biosafety Law, 2005). In June 2012, The Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Stockbreeding, Rural Development, Fishery and Food (SAGARPA) issued a permit to Monsanto Co. for upgrading of the soybean project on around 250,000 ha, from ‘pilot‘ to ‘commercial, allowing production of GMOs without any containing measure. The Mexican Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) supported this decision.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Mayan beekeepers against Monsanto transgenic soya, Campeche, Mexico
State or province:Campeche
Location of conflict:Hopelchen
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
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)
Specific commodities:Soybeans
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In 2011, the Mexican federal government reported 167,889 ha of soybean plantations (14,959 ha in the Yucatan Peninsula), which produced 141,143 tonnes (25,786 tonnes in the Yucatan Peninsula)

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Project area:60,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:25,000 families
Start of the conflict:2012
Company names or state enterprises:Monsanto Corporation (Monsanto Co) from United States of America - Investments in transgenic soybean plantations
Relevant government actors:The Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Stockbreeding, Rural Development, Fishery and Food (SAGARPA); The Mexican Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT); TheNational Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO); The National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP); The National Institute of Ecology (INE); State governments of the Yucatan Peninsula: Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatan.
International and Finance InstitutionsUnited Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Productores Unidos Lol K´ax; Productos de Miel Real el Panal de Suc-Tuc; Miel y Cera de Campeche; Koloolel Kab; Unión de Apícolas Indígenas Cheneros; Colectivo Apícola de los Chenes; Colectivo MA OGM; Indignación A.C.; Educe S.C. de R. L.; Unión de Científicos Comprometidos con la Sociedad (UCCS); Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA); Grupo de Estudios Ambientales, Semillas de vida; Greenpeace; El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR).
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
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Groundwater pollution or depletion
Other Environmental impactsContamination with glyphosate- the herbicide used for GM soybeans
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Other Health impactsAccording to research done in Argentina, glyphosate has caused miscarriage, hypothyroidism, diabetes, birth malformations, and cancer in human populations living close to the plantations.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Proposal and development of alternatives:According the the decison of the Second District Court brought on the demand by Mayan beekepers and supporters, SAGARPA has an obligation to ensure that no GM soybean is planted in the state of Campeche. If SAGARPA plans to reactivate the permit, it will have to meet two prerequisites: a) consider a new opinion on environmental impacts of soybean plantations issued by CONABIO, CONANP and INE; b) respedt FPIC with Mayan communities in the region.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:This court decision represents a victory to environmental justice in the state of Campeche, however there are similar ongoing court cases in state of Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Chiapas. The final victory would be decreeing the Peninsula Yucatan and the state of Chiapas as GMO free area.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

The Mexican federal GMO Biosafety Law (Ley de Bioseguridad de Organismos Genéticamente Modificados, 2005)
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References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Tamariz, Gabriel. 2013. Apiculture vs. Transgenic soy in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, EJOLT Factsheet No. 004, 5 p.
[click to view]

Soya transgénica amenaza a 20 mil familias mayas
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Frena juez la siembra de soya transgénica en Campeche
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Miel, oro amarillo
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Taller sobre transgénicos y apicultura en la Península de Yucatán
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Detectan polen de soya transgénica en mieles de la Península de Yucatán
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Detectan polen de soya transgénica en mieles de la Península de Yucatán
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[click to view]

Apicultores de Yucatán son afectados por cultivo de soya transgénica que contamina su miel
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Otorgan Nuevo amparo contra el permiso de siembra de soya transgénica concedido a Monsanto
[click to view]

Campeche prohibe transgénicos de Monsanto por afectar la apicultura y a los mayas
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Mayan people say no to GE crops
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Jovanka Spiric, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, vankajo(at) Aida Luz.
Last update13/07/2021
Conflict ID:1398
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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