US Still Not Happy About GM Corn Trade Conditions
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US Still Not Happy About GM Corn Trade Conditions

Photo by:   Sergio Contreras - Unsplash
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Eliza Galeana By Eliza Galeana | Junior Journalist & Industry Analyst - Wed, 02/15/2023 - 14:06

The US government said it was disappointed in the Mexican government's announcement to retain the ban on GM corn for human consumption even though its use for animal feed and industrial processes would remain on the table.

On Feb. 13, 2023, the Mexican government issued a new decree on glyphosate and genetically modified (GM) corn. According to the Ministry of Economy (SE), the latest decree substitutes the previous one issued in December 2022. “The new decree aims to specify the objective and scope of public policies, as well as to eliminate any possible imprecisions on the predecessor text, which led to misinterpretations,” the ministry said. The new regulations are limited to corn, so canola, soy, cotton and other raw materials production remain untouched. 

The decree allows the use of GM corn for animal feed and industrial manufacturing of products like cosmetics, textiles and paper. Nonetheless, it prohibits the use of GM corn for human consumption, which according to SE does not impact trade or imports because Mexico is self-sufficient in its GM-free white corn production.

In response to the decree, the US said it was disappointed in the Mexican government's decision to eventually ban GM corn for human consumption. "Singling out corn — our number one ag export to Mexico — and hastening an import ban on numerous food-grade uses makes USMCA a dead letter unless it is enforced," said Tom Haag, President, The National Corn Growers Association.

Meanwhile, Tom Vilsack, the US Secretary of Agriculture, said US authorities were carefully reviewing the details of the new decree and intend to work with the US trade representative to ensure the science and rules-based, trade commitment between the countries remains firm.

Mexico and the US are in dispute over the original decree issued by Mexican President López Obrador in 2020 that sought to phase out imports of GM corn and the herbicide glyphosate by January 2024. In January 2023, President López Obrador’s proposal to delay the ban on GM corn until 2025 was not received well by US authorities, as they threatened to take action under the USMCA treaty over the potential disruption of the corn trade. According to officials, Mexico’s decree was not grounded on scientific evidence so they would not settle for it. The new decree pointed out that COFEPRIS, along with counterparts from other countries, will conduct scientific studies to investigate the health effects of consuming GM corn.

Mexico imports about 17 million t/y of corn, mostly for animal feed. However, about 20% of the imports consist of white corn for the preparation of food products. Therefore, the updated decree will still affect corn production and trade between the two countries.

Photo by:   Sergio Contreras - Unsplash

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