Agro-biotech corporations in the developing world: the impact on Mexican farmers and biological resources

Victoria Capoferri (2013)


This paper aims to investigate empirically how the multiple forms of power of agriculture transnational corporations (ATNCs) affect countries and farmers at the national and local level. The adherence to supranational legislative frameworks, such as the World Trade Organisation’ (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) – whose terms have been shaped by corporations – have induced shifts in political orientations and changes in national legislations which are here examined in practice, through the case-study on Mexico. After a brief analysis of the global framework, the scope of the discussion is focused on the case study of maize in Mexico. This paper is grounded on both academic work as well as investigative journalism articles to explore the issue in the current international panorama.


Legislative developments in Mexico are in net contrast with traditional farmer’s practices and indigenous conceptions of intellectual property rights. This situation has generated a state of antagonism coming from farmers and indigenous groups, who demand their rights against those of the private companies. The increase of import of basic foodstuffs, the privatisation of the seed breeding sector and the threat of monopolistic commercialisation of transgenic maize by corporate actors is progressively menacing Mexico’s food sovereignty and food security. Furthermore, the introduction of GM hybrids is imperilling the economic-subsistence activities, biodiversity, and the precious legacy that rural communities and peasants have earned from their ancestors. Currently a key mission should be to spur the adoption of long-term policies oriented to enable and equip farmers, in order to provide present and future generations with the agricultural diversity essential for food security and for the maintenance of the biological equilibrium.