Opposition to NOM 199 for Agave Distillates

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Add your voice to the opposition of NOM 199 by researchers, academics and traditional producers of agave spirits in Mexico!

Sign the petition below

 

When we at TIP hear of proposed Mexican legislation regarding agave spirits, naturally our collective ears perk up. If such legislation threatens to harm entire categories of traditional agave distilling, we deem it critical to spread the word to our peers in the beverage industry. Some of you will remember the events of 2012. Once again, it falls to all of us to give voice to the custodians of traditional agave distilled spirits.

A new piece of proposed legislation (PROY-NOM-199-SCFI-2015) governing the manufacture, naming and labelling of all non-DO distillates, threatens traditional agave spirits in Mexico. This imperils the very livelihoods of entire communities, and stands to curtail product diversity and transparency for the consumer.

NOM 199 seeks to limit the use of the words “agave” and “maguey” to agave distillates produced within already-present DO’s (Denominations of Origen: similar to AOC’s and DOC’s in other parts of the world). If this legislation is accepted, agave distillers outside of a DO would lose the right to declare on their label either the primary ingredient or the means of production, thereby functionally undoing all of the strides that have been made in recent years towards a culture of agave dedicated to transparency, traceability, fair and ethical practices, and sustainability.

All non-DO distillates (traditional, artisanal, or otherwise) would then be labelled under the generalized heading of Komil. Komil is an Aztec word, broadly defined as “alcoholic drinks”. It is a word without a context within this industry, and the stroke of a pen would make it a fuzzy, catch-all term for both 100% Agave distillates and every type of Mixto (a combination of agave distillate and grain neutral or cane-distilled spirits) produced. This means that barring sudden and uncharacteristic transparency on the part of giant spirits producers and tequila houses, everyone’s packaging within this artificially wide category would be silent on how and where your “Komil” is made of or even what is in it.

Consider the distillers of Mezcal who live and produce–and whose forebearers have lived and produced for centuries–outside of the legally accepted DO for Mezcal. There are a lot of them. Right now, they must bottle and sell their small batch products as “Agave Distillate”, because of where they distil. If NOM 199 were enacted, those producers would be forced to bottle and sell as Komil, which would render craft and traditional producers indistinguishable from the raft of other non-DO products, many of which are industrial and non-traditional in nature.

In a nutshell what the newly proposed NOM will do is rob thousands of working families of their culturally traditional nomenclature, as well as the ability to sell their products with transparency and pride, while throwing wider the doors to big brands and potentially denuding the landscape of the very plants that we are all working so hard to preserve and enjoy

If we care about the future of agave, agave distillates, and the people whose lives are built around its propagation, harvesting and distillation, we can not allow this proposition to become law. Without our action they will have no future.

Sign the Petition Here:
http://www.tequilainterchangeproject.org/2015/03/09/nom199/