tequila & mezcal Bat Fiendly
2 / 06 / 2017
For more than a century, industrial practices for the production of tequila have impeded bats -pollinators par excellence of the agave- from feeding on the nectar of the flowers of these plants and pollinating them. The loss of most of the genetic diversity of the agaves tequileros causes them to be less resistant to attacks by fungi and bacterias, which in turn puts the productivity of the crops at risk.

Research has shown that by pollinating the flowers of the agaves, the bat contributes to this species being more vigorous and better adapted to the impacts of climate change. At the same time, populations of bats that have been reduced in Mexico during the last years due to the destruction and degradation of their habitats are conserved.

Rodrigo Medellín, a researcher at the Institute of Ecology at UNAM, has achieved a win-win synergy with David Suro, general director of the Tequila Interchange Project in Philadelphia, with whom he has achieved a change of strategy for industrialists to choose to produce tequila and mezcal Bat Fiendly. 

"When producers allow a percentage of 5% of their plantations to flourish, they are pollinated by bats. When the plant life cycle is completed, not only the genetic diversity of the agaves is improved and conserved, but we also help the species of the magueyero bat, Leptonycteris yerbabuenae, to recover. In this way bats, agave and tequila integrate a virtuous circle in which all parties benefit each other, "Medellín comments.

For the first time, since the birth of the tequila industry in Mexico, all actors involved in the production chain, including academics, producers, distillers, bottlers, marketers and bartenders, join the conservation of the magueyero bat. While the project is in experimental stages, "so far there have been more than 300 thousand bottles of bat-friendly tequila under the distinctive Bat Friendly ™," says the UNAM researcher.

This successful case was presented at the 13th Conference of the Parts on Biodiversity, held in Cancún, Quintana Roo, which demonstrated how Mexico integrates scientific research, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in The sectoral and cross-sectoral plans, programs and policies of the agricultural and forestry sectors. Semarnat congratulates the academy and private sector for this amount of effort and willingness in favor of conservation.