[This editorial (with my comments) is inspired by the following video on the dastardly NOM 199 currently in review in Mexico. Please, take a few moments to view this easy-to-follow video, then, feel free to share it among your friends, family, colleagues and cohorts.
Afterwards, go here to sign the petition and unifying statement against NOM 199.]
¿Qué es la NOM199? / What is NOM199 from pedro jimenez gurria on Vimeo.
First, a Little History
In 2012, a Mexican legislation called NOM 186 was launched that would regulate any agave spirit. It would have deprived many rights to small traditional and artisanal mezcal producers outside the Denomination of Origin of Tequila and Mezcal.
All other agave spirits would have been erroneously called “AGUA ARDIENTE de AGAVECEA.”
It would have also trademarked the word “AGAVE” to the Tequila Industry.
This would be like trying to trademark the word “grape.”
Imagine small winemakers not being able to say that their wine was made from grapes because they didn’t own the trademark, “grape?”
Both these measures were driven by the Tequila Industry and the Mexican Ministry of Economy, among other institutions.
Through the efforts of those in the academic fields, hospitality (bars and restaurants), interested WORLD citizens with large social media followings, and those concerned about the fair regulation of what we eat and drink, this NOM was soundly defeated.
NOM 199: The Zombie of NOM 186!
Now, there’s a new initiative that’s designed to revive those previously rejected proposals.
It has been signed and endorsed by the Tequila Industry, the Regulatory Board of Mezcal, and other transnational corporations—and you know who they are!
This time, they aim to misinform you the consumer, about what you are drinking by renaming agave spirits outside of the Denomination of Origins of Tequila and Mezcal as “KOMIL.”
Ever hear of the term komil?
There are no cultural records or documents anywhere in Mexico that refer to an agave distillate by the term komil—
It is based on a Nahuatl word (KOMILI) meaning, “intoxicant [inebriating] drink.”
If one of NOM 199’s very own passages is correct:
“The information printed on the labels of the bottles must be truthful and not induce confusion in the consumer as to the nature and characteristics of the product,” then…
They’re doing it all wrong.
If these distillates are forced to be labeled KOMIL and forbidden to use the word AGAVE, it will be more ambiguous and confusing to the consumer and he/she won’t be as informed as to what the drink is made from.
Komil could literally be eggnog like rompope, a tequila or mixto tequila, or any drink that intoxicates.
Currently, any mezcal outside of the Denomination of Origin cannot be termed Mezcal. Instead it is referred to as “destilado de agave” (agave distillate) or “aguardiente de agave” (agave firewater).
That is already a huge commercial disadvantage.
If this legislation passes and becomes law, these spirits would be forced to label themselves as KOMILES [plural of KOMIL].
This would not only increase unfair competition and confuse the consumer, but would also deprive the basic human rights of those who preserve the tradition of making these distillates by calling them by their actual true name.
This proposed legislation is a cultural and labor dispossession, and an arbitrarily imposed term.
It is designed to wipe out or erase the cultural, historical and familial stories inherent in each beautiful and distinctive agave spirit.
Consider it a form of genocide.
Imagine not ever being able to tell the story behind your grandmother’s favorite recipe for cookies or apple pie even though it’s been in your family for generations?
We agree that all alcoholic beverages need some sort of regulation because there are those unscrupulous producers whose beverages deceive and defraud consumers and threaten their health.
This is precisely why we demand consistent, detailed, inclusive, normas (laws) with not only an economic basis in mind, but with academic and bio-cultural, as well.
The spirit that each of these small producers make are derived by distilling AGAVE.
There’s no reason to lie and call it KOMIL.
Let’s call it what it is.
Stay informed and protect what’s yours—The National Heritage. #sellamamezcal #NoKomil