Mexico Withdraws Plan to Ban U.S. GM Corn Imports After U.S. Trade Warning. The Economy Department of Mexico issued a new decree on Monday that eliminates any deadline for banning imports of genetically modified (GM) feed corn from the United States.
The previous decree had raised concerns among U.S. farmers that the GM feed corn ban could happen in 2024 or 2025. Mexico has been purchasing around $3 billion worth of GM feed corn annually from the U.S., the country’s single biggest export market for corn.
The Mexican government argued that GM corn could represent a health risk, but has not presented any evidence to support this.
The new decree still calls for the “gradual substitution” of GM feed and milled corn, but it sets no date for doing so. Instead, potential health issues will be studied by Mexican experts, who will also collaborate with health authorities from other countries.
The Economy Department of Mexico stated, “Regarding the use of genetically modified corn for animal feed and industrial use, the date for prohibiting its use has been eliminated. Working groups will be set up with the domestic and international private sector to achieve an orderly transition.”
Although Mexico’s earlier position was criticized by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the new decree was welcomed by U.S. farmers. The U.S. trade office did not respond to requests for comment on the revised decree.
The ban was feared to violate the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement, and Mexico hopes to avoid a full-fledged trade complaint under the agreement on the corn issue, as well as a dispute over Mexico’s energy sector.
Mexico is the birthplace of corn and will still prohibit the import of GM seed corn to protect native varieties. It will also prohibit the use of GM corn for direct human consumption, which in Mexico mainly consists of fresh white corn and white corn tortilla flour.
However, the country does not need to import white corn from the U.S., where most corn is yellow or sweet corn.
The Mexico withdraws Plan to ban the GM corn is a relief for U.S. farmers who have been exporting GM corn to Mexico for years. It also marks a victory for the U.S. government, which had argued that the previous ban was not based on scientific evidence and threatened to disrupt billions of dollars in agricultural trade between the two countries.
Mexican officials have said that they will work with the U.S. government and private sector to ensure an orderly transition to non-GM corn.