By vast

Published: May 27, 2019

Category: Non-GMO News, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter

The humble corn tortilla is a treasured food staple in Mexico that has become emblematic of agricultural, nutritional, social, and environmental issues facing the country. That’s why it matters, says Food Tank, what type of tortilla Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), prefers.

As the cradle of original corn varieties, Mexico features 65 races and 20,000 varieties, a wealth of biodiversity. But 40 percent of tortillas are made with industrial flours, many with color additives. AMLO prefers the natural blue corn, which small farmers produce abundantly.

In addition, 90.4 percent of tortillas sampled recently contained GM corn; GMOs were found in 82 percent of corn-derived foods, 30 percent of which contained glyphosate. GMOs threaten biodiversity through monocropping and soil damage; while Mexico’s past administration was strongly pro-GMO, AMLO says he will not permit GMOs.

The 3,500-year-old practice of nixtamalization, breaking down corn kernels to double volume and increase nutritional content, uses 33 percent less water and 40 percent less fuel than industrialized processing. Private initiatives are encouraging use of nixtamilaztion.

Keeping tortillas affordable is key for consumers, balanced against the need for subsistence incomes for small farmers. Proposals for guaranteeing fair prices include technical assistance for efficient farming and higher yields, fair trade with no American subsidies, and campaigns to increase sales of non-GMO, sustainable tortillas that encourage nixtamalization.

The Alianza por Nuestra Tortilla (Alliance for Our Tortilla) is gathering civic groups and experts to protect this valuable product.

Source: Food Tank

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