Mexico fears Asian pressure

Two cactus species used to create alcoholic beverages have been targeted by Mexican politicians demanding action to protect the tequila industry from Chinese and Japanese competition.

The lower house of Mexico's Congress has voted to urge the government to stop Chinese firms patenting maguey. They also have expressed concern that companies in both China and Japan are targeting nopal, another species.

"Nopal and Maguey are Mexican plants and if we don't take the necessary measures in time, we run the risk of losing the denomination of origin," Cesar Duarte, the legislator who sponsored the move, told the EFE news agency.

He said the main Mexican farmers union has been told that Chinese firms have begun legal moves to register the nopal plant with the European Commission as a Chinese product. However, a spokesman for the Mexican Agriculture Ministry said the EC so far has received no requests regarding either nopal or maguey.

Mexico argues that the maguey is a uniquely Mexican product because 150 of the 200 varieties of the plant are found in its territory.

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