October 29, 2022
Mexico considers international grain agreements following GM corn ban
Victor Suarez, Mexico's Deputy Agriculture Minister said the country's upcoming 2024 ban on genetically modified (GM) corn will go ahead, as the nation considers direct agreements with American, Argentinian, and Brazilian farmers to secure imports of non-GM corn, US News reported.
The deputy minister said Mexico is on track to reduce its US imports of yellow corn by half through increased domestic production. The corn is used primarily for livestock feed.
He said the nation will consider agreements with farmers in other nations to grow non-GM corn and sell it to Mexico in order to fill the remaining gap, adding that there are numerous alternatives to importing non-GMO yellow corn from the US.
The Mexican Agriculture Ministry's latest statement was the clearest indication yet that the ban will affect yellow corn used as animal feed. It seemed to go against the promises Mexican Agriculture Minister Victor Villalobos made to his American counterpart the previous year that Mexico wouldn't restrict imports of GMO US corn.
Mexico, one of the biggest consumers of corn in the world, currently imports 17 million tonnes of American grain annually, the majority of which is yellow corn used for animal feed.
By 2024, GM corn and the herbicide glyphosate are to be phased out, according to a decree signed in 2020 by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Supporters cite studies showing harmful effects of glyphosate and claim that GM seeds can contaminate Mexico's centuries-old native varieties.
US farm lobby groups said the ban will cost both countries' economies billions of dollars. They have urged the US government to challenge it under the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement.
MAIZALL, an international chamber representing growers in Argentina, Brazil and the United States responsible for more than 80% of global corn exports, said growers will not switch to non-GM corn production to accommodate Mexico. They expressed doubt about Mexico's ability to find enough non-GM corn to meet its requirements.
Suarez said that Mexico was "under no obligation to buy and grow GM corn," and that he did not think this represented a violation of the USMCA.
He said they respect and care about (the trade pact), but the USMCA is not God and it is not our constitution.
When asked if Mexico would provide more information regarding the future of US imports, Suarez responded that announcements may be made in the second half of 2023. He declared that the decree would not be changed.
With the help of free fertilisers, expanded irrigation systems, and other incentives, mostly for small and medium-sized farmers, local corn production has increased by 1% to 2% annually as part of Lopez Obrador's initiative to make Mexico self-sufficient in everything from energy to food.
Suarez said yellow corn imports are now more expensive than domestic production, which provides farmers with yet another reason to switch.
He was confident that after 2024, Mexico would replace the approximately 8 million tonnes of corn it would no longer import from American farmers. He added that the government was working to reach agreements with nearby corn farmers to specifically increase the production of yellow corn to 6 million tonnes.
- US News