Mexico Removes Deadline for Ban on GM Corn
Mexico has removed the deadline to effectively ban genetically modified (GM) corn for animal feed and industrial use, which had been set for January 2024, according to the Ministry of Economy. The decision follows trade tensions with the US.
While the Mexican government has removed the deadline for banning GM corn for animal feed and industrial use, it still plans to prohibit consumption of GM corn and glyphosate by humans. The new decree forbids the use of GM corn in flour, dough or tortillas but does not apply to the industrial manufacturing of products like cosmetics, textiles and paper.
The decision also aims to facilitate the gradual substitution of glyphosate and agrochemicals containing it as an active ingredient with alternatives that are safer for human health, biocultural diversity and diversity. The new regulations set Jan. 31, 2024, as the deadline to achieve this substitution but during the transition period, the importation of glyphosate may be authorized by the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT).
Mexico is a major importer of corn from the US, with approximately 17 million tons of mostly GM yellow corn purchased each year, most of which is used for animal feed, according to Reuters. The US is the world's largest producer of GM corn and has been pushing for Mexico to continue allowing imports, as any disruption in the trade could lead to economic losses for US farmers.
The fight against glyphosate and GM corn has been going on for years in Mexico. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration has made an effort to fight against the use of glyphosate, saying that the World Health Organization (WHO) labels the chemicals as "carcinogenic."
The decree seeks to establish the guidelines to be carried out by Mexican entities to "safeguard health, a healthy environment and food security and self-sufficiency.”
Mexico and the US have been at loggerheads over an original decree issued by López Obrador in 2020 that sought to phase out imports of GM corn and glyphosate by Jan. 2024. US officials threatened to take action under the USMCA over the potential disruption of the corn trade. On Jan. 23, 2023, Alexis Taylor, Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Doug McKalip, Chief Agricultural Negotiator, US Trade Representative Office (USTR), traveled to Mexico City to address concerns regarding Mexico’s biotechnology policies, as reported by MBN.