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Mexico turns away U.S. biotech corn citing 2020 decree

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A vibrant trading partnership between Canada, Mexico, and the United States is integral to farmers and a stable economy. Despite this, Mexico’s President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador is holding tight to a controversial 2020 decree to phase out genetically modified (GM) corn and glyphosate by 2024.

This week, Obrador reiterated the country’s commitment to the new policy with a decline to purchase yellow corn from an undisclosed seller in the United States. This bold move supports Mexico’s discussions earlier this year about entering into direct agreements with U.S. farmers to secure non-GM corn imports

According to Reuters, Obrador stated during a news conference, “There is a market for it, but the government cannot make a purchase because we do not want GM.”

Mexico is not only concerned about what Obrador calls a “lack of scientific investigation into its effects,” but also the GMO variety’s impacts on native varieties of corn. 

If the decree is enacted, the effects will be felt by U.S. farmers and the people of Mexico. Last month, a coalition of food and agricultural industry stakeholders in both countries released a study about the impacts the ban would have on both countries. The degree comes with concern for the food security and economic vitality of the country that imports 17 million tonnes of corn per year. Meanwhile, biotech corn makes up over 90 percent of U.S. corn crops.

The loss of exports will also likely cause ripples in the U.S. economy. Billions of dollars in fact. As a result of the news, corn futures fell on Wednesday 6 cents per bushel to a two-month low of $6.61-1/2 per bushel.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Raquel Buenrostro virtually last week to discuss the issue. The National Corn Growers’ Association is currently encouraging the trade rep to file a dispute under the agricultural chapter of United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). 

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