The complaint “claims that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws to protect forest ecosystems and water quality from the adverse environmental impacts of avocado production in Michoacán, Mexico.”
MEXICO CITY (AP) — One year after the season of the super bowl was marred by the ban on importing Mexican avocado, another supply threat has emerged: a environmental complaint that farmers are destroying forests they provide crucial habitat for monarch butterflies and other creatures.
The complaint, filed with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a trilateral body that is part of the Treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada, accuses the Mexican government of not enforcing its own laws on deforestation, water conservation and land use. .
The avocado plantations are cultivated at approximately the same altitude and with the same climatic conditions as the pine and fir forests in the state of Michoacán, where the butterflies that migrate every year are concentrated.
Farmers often clear the forest to plant the avocados that will reach US consumers. Because they hibernate at higher altitudes, the butterflies are not directly affected, but the forests surrounding their mountaintop reserves are.
Julio Santoyo is part of a group of environmentalists in the town of Villa Madero, in Michoacán, where activists have suffered kidnappings and threats for years 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 does not know who filed the complaint, but supports it.
“The complaint helps to put the problem on a horizon of greater visibility and may influence the generation of environmental standards that are required for its production,” he said. “The truth is that it is well founded. The assertions correspond to the reality that we have been denouncing and with the events that continue to occur.”
Activists in Villa Madero say they regularly see strips of forest cleared and irrigation ponds dug to water avocado saplings. At least two environmentalists have been kidnapped, threatened and beaten after complaining about deforestation.
In 2021, Mexico was the deadliest country in the world for environmental and land defense activists with 54 murdered, 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 that filed the complaint, presumably to avoid retaliation.
The complaint “asserts that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws to protect forest ecosystems and water quality from the adverse environmental impacts of avocado production in Michoacán, Mexico,” the office said.
“It points out that Mexico is not enforcing 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 added.
The letter alleges that the number of orchards certified to export the fruit quadrupled between 2010 and 2021, from 14,181 to 63,559, and that in this western state of the country there are up to 280,000 hectares (half a million acres) of avocado crops.
“This growth has been at the expense of forest land,” the complaint noted.
The Michoacán avocado growers and packers association declined to comment on the matter, but indicated that it has supported reforestation efforts.
The avocados that will 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, which ensure the fruit does not carry diseases or pests that could harm crops in the United States, after one of its inspectors was threatened for rejecting a shipment in Michoacán. .
The inspections resumed a few days later, when both nations agreed to implement measures to guarantee the safety of the inspectors.