Mexico scraps plan to ban GM corn for animal feed, industrial use

It retained plans to prohibit use for human consumption, though
calendar icon 14 February 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Mexico on Monday scrapped a deadline to ban genetically modified corn for animal feed and industrial use amid trade tensions with the United States, but retained plans to prohibit use of the grain for human consumption as well as the herbicide glyphosate, reported Reuters.

The move, approved in a government decree, eliminates January 2024 as the date for the country to forbid GM corn for animal feed and industrial use, a statement by the Economy Ministry said.

Amid a brewing dispute over the possible disruption of billions of dollars worth of corn trade, US officials and farmers had called for clarity on the ban from Mexico. The latter buys about 17 million tonnes of mostly GM yellow corn from the US annually, most of which is used for animal feed.

Mexico said it still plans to revoke and refrain from granting new authorizations for GM corn for human consumption, which the decree defined as flour, dough or tortilla made from the grain. The ban does not apply to GM corn used in the industrial manufacturing of products like cosmetics, textiles and paper, the decree said.

About 18% to 20% of the corn Mexico imports from the United States is white corn, used in food products like tortillas, according to sector experts.

Under the decree, the new measures take effect on Tuesday. A spokeswoman for the Economy Ministry did not immediately respond to a question about whether Mexico would begin revoking authorizations of GM corn for human consumption on Tuesday.

The decree also said Mexico will revoke authorizations and permits to import, produce, distribute and use the herbicide glyphosate, a plan it has had since late 2020. A transition period would be in effect until March 31, 2024.

Health authority COFEPRIS will be responsible for authorizations of GM corn to be used as animal feed or in industrial manufacturing processes, subject to supply availability.

Mexico and the US have been at loggerheads over an original decree issued by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in 2020 that sought to phase out imports of GM corn and glyphosate by January 2024.

US officials threatened to take action under the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) over the potential disruption of the corn trade.

The new U.S. agriculture trade chief last week told Reuters that he had given Mexico until Feb. 14 to respond to a request to explain the science behind Mexico's planned bans.

COFEPRIS will conduct scientific studies with counterparts from other countries to investigate the health impacts of consuming GM corn, the decree added.

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