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Mexican president attempts to make a deal on GM corn


Yesterday, Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador began trying to work out a deal with Washington after the U.S. threatened legal action over the ban on genetically modified corn by 2024. Far from ideal (or even clear), Mexico has offered a livestock feed concession that may still mean a violation of the trade pact, leading to a trade dispute with Washington.

Mexico’s ban on genetically modified corn has been riddled with confusion regarding its implementation. Meanwhile, the United States has issued a call for clarity, concerned about the economic fallout that could result from the loss in export markets. 

Image by Octavio Hoyos, Shutterstock

After meeting with the Mexico President on Monday, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “The meetings provided a venue to raise the United States Government’s and our producers’ deep concerns around President López Obrador’s 2020 decree to phase out the use and importation of biotech corn and other biotechnology products by January 2024. “

According to Reuters, during the news conference, López Obrador attempted to assuage concerns by saying that the ban would only focus on genetically modified yellow corn grown for human consumption. The Mexican president indicated that Mexico would continue to allow GMO corn slated for livestock production to be imported, even after the decree takes effect in 2024. 

“We offered to extend the term to two years, in the case of yellow corn used for [livestock feed],” Lopez Obrador said. The problem, though, is that López Obrador did not provide any clarity as to how long the exception might last, and how the country plans to implement an allowance of genetically modified corn for livestock. 

As the second-largest importer of U.S. corn, America’s farmers send about 17 million tonnes of corn each year to Mexico. 

“Since biotech corn accounts for 90 percent of American-grown corn, blocking any imports using this safe and environmentally friendly technology would not only be a major blow to the Mexican people and the economy, but it would be hard on American farmers and rural communities,” said Jon Doggett, chief executive of the National Corn Growers Association, representing U.S. farmers.

Supporters of the ban are still concerned about genetically modified varieties of corn impacting ancient, native corn genetics in Mexico. Meanwhile, López Obrador has indicated that he wants a further assessment on how genetically modified corn could impact human health. 

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