LatinNews Daily - 14 February 2023

MEXICO: Gov’t dials down GM corn restrictions

On 13 February, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador published a decree relaxing restrictions on the use of genetically modified (GM) corn.


The decree is the latest response by the Mexican government in a long-running dispute with the US over plans to phase out the use and import of GM corn, which the US has said would “disrupt billions of dollars in bilateral agricultural trade”. While the new decree maintains that GM corn shall not be used in products for human consumption, it relaxes restrictions on its use in industry and for animal fodder. With the new decree, Mexico’s government will hope to avoid an escalation in trade tensions with the US, while not completely backing down from its stance.

  • According to Mexico’s economy ministry (SE), the decree renders obsolete a previous decree issued in December 2020 that had ordered the phasing out of the use and import of GM products and the herbicide glyphosate by January 2024.
  • The new decree refers to GM corn only. It maintains that GM corn will not be used in products for human consumption, categorising these as dough and tortillas. However, it states that GM corn may be used for animal fodder and industrial manufacturing of products not for human consumption “such as cosmetics, textiles, footwear, paper, construction”.
  • The decree sets a deadline of 31 March 2024 for banning the use and import of glyphosate.
  • The decree also commits the federal sanitary protection agency (Cofepris) to carry out scientific investigations into the potential negative health impacts of GM corn.
  • The SE says the decree aims to give regulatory certainty as well as supplying scientific evidence to back up its decisions, in compliance with terms of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on regional trade, under which the US had threatened to initiate legal action in relation to the ban.
  • The SE stressed that banning GM corn for human consumption would not impact trade or imports given that Mexico is already self-sufficient in the production of white corn for human use.
  • Doug McKalip, the chief agricultural negotiator at the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), told Reuters on 9 February that he had given Mexico until today (14 February) to respond to a request to explain the science behind the planned GM corn and glyphosate herbicide bans.

Looking Ahead: The US has yet to release an official response to the new decree.

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