Thursday, March 23, 2023

Environmental activists target Mexican avocados

MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) – A year after Super Bowl season banned imports of Mexican avocados, another supply threat has emerged: an environmental complaint that farmers are destroying forests that harbor monarch butterflies and other creatures. provide important habitat for

The complaint, filed with the Environmental Cooperation Commission, a tripartite body that is part of the treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada, accused the Mexican government of not enforcing its own laws on deforestation, water conservation and land use. It applies

Avocado plantations at roughly the same altitude and with similar climatic conditions are cultivated pine and deodar forests in the state of Michoacán, where the butterflies that migrate each year are concentrated.

Farmers often clear forest to plant avocados that reach American consumers. Because they hibernate at higher altitudes, the butterflies are not directly affected, but the forests around their mountain reserves are.

Julio Santoyo is part of a group of environmentalists in the town of Villa Madero in Michoacán, where activists have faced years of kidnapping and intimidation from groups of illegal loggers who cut down trees to establish unauthorized avocado orchards. These plantations require much more water than native pines.

Santoyo indicated that he did not know who filed the complaint, but supported it.

“The complaint helps to put the problem on the horizon of greater visibility and may influence the generation of environmental standards needed for its production,” he said. “The truth is that it is well established. The claims are in line with the reality we have been condemning and with the events that keep happening.

Activists at Villa Madero say they regularly see forest clearings and irrigation ponds dug to water avocado plantations. At least two environmentalists have been abducted, threatened and beaten after complaining about deforestation.

In 2021, Mexico was the world’s deadliest country for environmental and land defense activists, killing 54 people, according to a survey by the NGO Global Witness.

Avocado growers also face threats in Michoacán, where they are often subject to extortion by drug cartels.

The commission said in a statement that it did not disclose the name of the person or group who filed the complaint, possibly to avoid retaliation.

“The complaint claims that Mexico has failed to effectively enforce its environmental laws to protect forest ecosystems and water quality from adverse environmental impacts of avocado production in Michoacán, Mexico,” the office said. “

“This indicates that Mexico is not implementing clauses of the constitution and various federal laws focused on environmental impact assessment, forest conservation, sustainable development, water quality, climate change and environmental protection,” he said.

The letter alleges that the number of orchards certified to export the fruit has quadrupled from 14,181 to 63,559 between 2010 and 2021, and that avocado crops have grown to 280,000 hectares (half a million acres) in the country’s western state.

“This increase has happened at the cost of forest land,” the complaint said.

The Michoacán Avocado Growers and Packers Association declined to comment on the matter, but indicated that it supported anti-deforestation efforts.

Avocados intended to be eaten during the Super Bowl have already been shipped to the United States, so this year’s supply will not be affected.

Last year, the US government briefly halted mandatory controls on Mexican avocados that ensure the fruit cannot carry diseases or pests that could harm crops in the United States, according to an inspector in Michoacán. threatened to reject the shipment.

Inspections resumed a few days later, after both countries agreed to implement measures to guarantee the safety of the inspectors.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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