Friday, June 21, 2024

Health Ministry proposes ban on GM corn use in tortillas

The federal government is planning to ban the use of genetically modified (GM) corn in tortillas.

The Health Ministry on Monday published a draft proposal to modify the Official Mexican Standard (NOM) that governs products made from masa, or corn dough.

white corn
The proposal is part of an overall federal government effort to stop Mexicans from eating white GM corn imports, most of which comes from the United States. (Susan Slater/Wikimedia Commons)

“The use of genetically modified corn as a raw material must be avoided in the making of the products covered by this Mexican Official Standard,” states the document, which was posted to an online platform of the National Commission for Regulatory Improvement (Conamer).

Interested parities have 30 days to comment on the proposal, after which the government could publish a modified NOM in its official gazette that bans the use of GM corn in tortillas. The modified NOM would take effect 60 days after publication.

The National Chamber of Industrialized Corn (Canami) said that the proposed measure “creates restrictions on international trade and members of the International Trade Organization must be notified.”

Canami also said that the costs of laboratory tests to determine whether corn is GM or not aren’t being considered. The chamber said that those costs could cause their members to record net losses.

Marcela Martinez Pichardo, president of Mexico's National Chamber of Industrialized Corn
Marcela Martinez Pichardo, president of Mexico’s National Chamber of Industrialized Corn, which said the proposed change creates restrictions on international trade and that the cost of testing would be a burden to its members. (Canami/Facebook)

The newspaper Reforma reported that there have also been complaints about the brevity of the 60-day period between the publication of a modified NOM and the entry into force of its provisions.

The Health Ministry’s publication of the draft proposal on the Conamer platform came just over a week after the federal government imposed a 50% tariff on white corn imports in an effort to limit human consumption of GM maize.

The tariff, which ends access to cheap white corn imports, is scheduled to remain in force until Dec. 31, 2023, after which Mexico intends to ban the importation of GM maize for human consumption. A ban on GM corn for animal feed is slated to come in at an unspecified later date, depending on supply.

The government of the United States – a large supplier of yellow corn fodder to Mexico – last month requested dispute settlement consultations with its Mexican counterpart over Mexico’s ban on GM corn imports. The government of Canada announced June 9 that it would participate as a third party in the consultations initiated by the U.S.

With reports from Reforma and El Economista 

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