Exclusive-Mexico will continue with GMO corn ban and seeks international grain deals -official By Stocksak

By Cassandra Garrison and Adriana Barrera

MEXICO CITY – Mexico is looking into direct agreements with farmers in Argentina, Brazil, and the United States to import non-genetically altered yellow corn, according to the deputy agriculture minister. He also stated that a 2024 ban of GM corn would not change.

Stocksak was told by Victor Suarez, Deputy Agriculture Minister, that Mexico is on track for halving its U.S. yellow corn imports, which are primarily used for livestock feed, when the ban takes effect in 2024. This will be achieved through increased domestic production.

Suarez stated that Mexico will seek to make deals with other farmers to grow non-GM corn to fill the gap.

Suarez stated in an interview that there are many other options than importing non-GMO yellow maize from the United States.

The strongest indication that Mexico’s Agriculture Ministry has given was that the ban would apply to yellow corn intended for livestock feed was this. It appeared to reverse the assurances Victor Villalobos, Mexico’s Agriculture minister, gave to his counterpart in the United States last year that Mexico would not limit imports from the United States of genetically modified corn (GMO).

Mexico, one of the largest buyers of corn worldwide, currently imports 17 million tonnes of U.S. corn per year. The vast majority of this yellow corn is used for animal feed.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s President, has issued a 2020 decree that will see the end of GM corn and the herbicide glyphosate. Supporters claim that GM seeds could contaminate Mexico’s oldest native varieties and point out research showing adverse effects from glyphosate.

American farm lobbies claim the ban will cause both countries economic damage of billions of dollars. They have asked Washington to challenge it under the United States – Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), trade pact.

MAIZALL, an international association representing growers in Argentina and Brazil, is responsible for more than 80% global corn exports. It has stated that it will not change its corn production methods towards non-GM corn to accommodate Mexico. They expressed doubt that Mexico will be able to find enough non-GM corn.

Suarez said he was not convinced that Mexico’s decree violated USMCA. He stated that Mexico was not required to purchase and grow GM crops.

Suarez stated, “We respect and take care of (the trade agreement), but the USMCA does not constitute God or our constitution.”

Suarez indicated that Mexico could make announcements in 2023’s second half, when Suarez was asked if Mexico would clarify the future U.S. imports. He assured that the decree would not be modified.

Lopez Obrador’s campaign for Mexico to become self-sufficient in all things, including energy and food, has seen a slight increase in corn production. This was mainly due to free fertilizers, irrigation expansions, and other incentives for small and medium-sized farmers.

Suarez stated that yellow corn imports have become more expensive than domestic production. This is another incentive for farmers who want to switch.

He was optimistic that Mexico would import no more corn from the United States after 2024, when it will have about 8 million tonnes. He stated that the government was in talks with local corn growers to increase yellow corn production by 6 million tonnes.

He stated, “We believe we will achieve it.”

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Stocksak Editorial

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