GM Chiles Ignite Outrage in New Mexico

Mar 19, 2012 10:46 am

Farmers rally to preserve historic chile plants

Hatch Chiles
Photo: kerinin on Flickr
Chiles in Hatch, New Mexico (home of theinfamous Hatch Chile Festival).
 

Normally, when you hear about genetically modified crops, people are talking about corn or soy, but in New Mexico the GM debates focus on the beloved chile pepper plant. If you’ve ever been to New Mexico you know that the chile is not something anyone tampers with — ever. It is thus not surprising that local farmers have reacted with vehemence to New Mexico State University’s patent for a genetically modified chile according to New Mexico’s Daily Lobo.

The state Legislature gave NMSU $1 million to experiment with genetic engineering with the goals of increasing the plants resilience and nutritional make up. But many farmers in the area do not perceive the research as a positive step, rather they see it as a threat to the health and survival of their own non-GM plants. Local farmers have created a grassroots organization called Save New Mexico Seeds, which aims to restrict the sale of modified chile plants in the area and thus preserve the heritage breeds that enjoy a national reputation. The group also hopes to convince the state Legislature to stop funding any further research.

In the meantime, anyone who is anxious to avoid GM crops, can refer to the Just Label It! campaign’s list of tips and support Save New Mexico Seeds online.

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