Raquel Buenrostro, Mexico’s Minister of Economy, said that the Mexican government proposed to extend the deadline for the ban of GMO yellow corn until 2025, a year later than previously expected. According to Buenrostro, the proposal was raised by President López Obrador during his meeting with US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Nov. 28, 2022.
The new proposal aims to postpone the implementation of the ban from 2024 to 2025 so that health regulators from both countries have enough time to jointly investigate the possible health effects of transgenic yellow corn. "The president placed the proposal in the hands of the ministries to make the transition smoother," Buenrostro said at a press conference.
President López Obrador said that the ban was focused on corn for human consumption. GM yellow corn imports for animal feed would still be allowed, pending a permit by COFEPRIS. Currently, Mexico imports about 17 million tons of corn from the US every year. About 18 to 20 percent of imports represent white corn, used in the preparation of food products like tortillas.
Buenrostro reported that the news had already been sent to the office of the Commercial Representative of the US government, as well as to the Department of Commerce and other key actors in the agro-industrial sector such as Cargill and Bayer.
The US government has warned on several occasions about the economical and practical repercussions that the GMO ban could bring to both countries. Moreover, after the meeting with President López Obrador, Vilsack pointed out that if necessary, the US government would be forced to consider all options, including taking formal steps to enforce their legal rights under the USMCA trade agreement.
Juan Anaya, Director, Mexican Agricultural Markets Consulting Group (GCMA), said the ban’s postponement was good news for Mexico’s corn purchasing sectors, international producers and export players. However, Angus R. Kelly, Director of Public Policy, the US Corn Growers Association, stated that extending the deadline would also extend the uncertainty for America’s corn growers. “Any attempt to ban any form of biotech corn, including corn grown for human consumption, is illegal under the USMCA…US farmers want stronger action than just an extension,” he said.
Buenrostro said that President López Obrador committed to sending a specialized team to the US to explain the modifications to the previous decree. The meeting with US officials could be scheduled for Dec. 16, 2022, but the date has not been confirmed yet.