Sunday, March 3, 2024

Mexico offers to delay ban on GM corn imports until 2025

Mexico has offered to put off implementation of its ban on genetically modified (GM) corn until 2025, Economy Minister Raquel Buenrostro announced on Monday. She said that Mexico will prepare a proposal modifying the presidential decree banning imported GM corn for human consumption by 2024.

“We are working here, within the government, to make this new decree and present it,” Buenrostro said during a press conference. “We still need to have a meeting … with the United States to explain and put the proposal’s modifications on the table.” 

President López Obrador published a decree in 2020 pledging to phase out GM corn imports and eliminate the herbicide glyphosate by 2024 due to what he alleges are adverse health impacts when used for human consumption. The president stated that Mexico will determine if GM corn is harmful for human health when used as animal feed. 

Those who support the ban have also claimed that seeds from GM corn could contaminate Mexico’s native varieties. Critics claim that there is little scientific evidence supporting the claim that GM crops are harmful to human health, and that a ban would harm food security and severely impact U.S. farmers. 

In its current form, the ban would apply to corn imported for human consumption.
In its current form, the ban would apply to corn imported for human consumption. (Shutterstock)

Buenrostro’s announcement follows a request by a group of U.S. legislators on Friday asking the Biden administration to initiate a dispute resolution process under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The request was sent in a letter signed by 24 members of Congress and headed by Republican Representative Adrian Smith of Nebraska and Democrat Daniel Kildee of Michigan. 

“These policies are not based on science and may decrease the supply of corn in North American agricultural supply chains. These actions, in addition to going against the terms of the USMCA, could increase food prices and food insecurity caused by Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine,” the representatives said. 

This is the second letter sent by U.S. legislators from corn-producing states. In November, two Republican senators from Iowa wrote to U.S Trade Representative Katherine Tai to express their concerns about the proposed ban. 

“The Mexican ban on GM corn would cause the U.S. economy to lose $73.89 billion in economic output, and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would contract by $30.55 billion,” they wrote. 

According to the Washington Post, Mexico is the largest importer of U.S. corn, relying on the U.S. for about 40% of its total animal feed. Most of the corn used for human consumption in Mexico is domestically produced white corn, which is not genetically modified. The proposed ban threatens to strain trade relations between the two countries.

There is an ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and Mexico in the energy sector, with the U.S. alleging that Mexico favors the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) and Pemex, both state-owned energy companies, at the expense of U.S. firms.

Buenrostro said that she and other officials are seeking to resolve the dispute quickly to boost investor confidence in Mexico. The two countries recently announced shared efforts to encourage companies to shift operations from Asia to North America. 

Another dispute involving regional content requirements for the auto sector has reportedly reached a resolution that will be made public on Jan. 13, according to Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade Alejandro Encinas Nájera.

With reports by El Economista, Washington Post and Forbes México

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