Digitalista | BIGSTOCK

Oct 28, 2022

Mexico to proceed with GMO corn ban

Mexico is on track to halve its U.S. imports of yellow corn

Mexico is considering direct agreements with farmers in the U.S., Argentina and Brazil to secure non-genetically modified yellow corn imports, the country's deputy agriculture minister said, adding that a 2024 ban on GM corn would not be amended.

The 2020 decree by Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador aims to phase out GM corn and the herbicide glyphosate by 2024.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Victor Suarez told Reuters Mexico is on track to halve its U.S. imports of yellow corn, used primarily for livestock feed, when the ban comes into effect in 2024 via increased domestic production.

To make up the remaining gap, the country will look at making deals with farmers in other countries to grow non-GM corn and sell it to Mexico, Suarez said.

Impact of ban on North American corn exports

Mexico imports about 17 million metric tons (669,256,000 bushels) of U.S. corn a year and is on track to import even more this year.

According to a report from CropLife International:

  • Farmers in the U.S. are expected to experience a net economic loss of $3.1 billion and could shrink GDP by $7.95 billion in the first 10 years after implementation
  • Canadian farmers are expected to experience a net economic loss of $171 million and could shrink GDP by $73 million in the first 10 years after implementation
  • U.S. employment could fall by 8,700 jobs annually, 1,400 of which are directly tied to grain farming

Mexico cannot provide enough domestic corn nor can they source a sufficient amount of non-GM corn to support its domestic food and feed needs, says the report. In 2021, Mexico’s corn imports accounted for 4.4% of all the corn produced in the U.S. (24% of U.S. corn exports).

Changes resulting from a blanket ban on GM corn would significantly disrupt global corn exports and the import of corn to Mexico, since over 90% of corn produced in the U.S. is GMO.

U.S. producers want to challenge proposed policy

In September, U.S. producers urged the U.S. government to challenge the proposed GM ban policy under a regional free trade agreement.

Washington could potentially raise a dispute under the agriculture chapter of the USMCA stipulating cooperation between members on an individual government's regulation of imports.

A dispute settlement can apply under some USMCA chapters when a country considers one member government has nullified or impaired a benefit that was in place when the pact was signed.

Suarez told Reuters he did not believe Mexico's decree presented any violation of the USMCA, saying the country was "under no obligation to buy and grow GM corn."

Related reading

Study: Mexico's proposed GM corn ban reveals broad impacts

U.S. producers want to challenge Mexican ban on GM corn

Lisa Cleaver

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