Sacred Maize against a Legal Maze
The Diversity of Resistance to Guatemala’s ‘Monsanto Law’
Keywords:Monsanto, Guatemala, GM food, maize, social movements
I chronicle here how a small country deled one of the world’s largest corporations and, in the process, reinvigorated civic hopes for a more democratic future. In the summer of 2014, massive mobilizations across Guatemala forced its legislature to repeal a plant varieties protection act, dubbed the ‘Monsanto Law’ that would otherwise have legalized genetically modiled (GM) crops in one of the few countries worldwide that prohibits them. Harnessing Raymond Williams’s distinction between residual/emergent and incorporated/unincorporated counter-hegemonies, I examine how diverse classes and interest groups articulated their opposition to the law through expressions of ‘moral economy’ across social media and news platforms. With respect to Guatemala’s indigenous majority, I explain how and why Maya leaders uncompromisingly regard GM corn as blasphemy through my prior cultural and historical research on the centrality of maize for indigenous economic survival, community cohesion, autonomy, and spiritual identity.
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