Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador issued a modified, new decree Monday to ban genetically modified white corn while temporarily allowing GM corn for feed and industrial uses.
The new decree, which replaces a more simplistic version published in 2020, makes clear that Mexico intends to ban all GM corn, but recognizes that it must continue to allow imports for feed and industrial uses until the country can somehow replace the supplies for which it now depends on the U.S.
The U.S. is Mexico’s primary supplier of corn, and almost all of it is genetically modified. The U.S. exported 15.4 million metric tons of corn in 2022, according to USDA data. The U.S. ships roughly 1.6 million tons of white corn per year to Mexico.
The ban on imports of GM white corn for use in food such as tortillas appears to be immediate, but the decree does not set a time frame for blocking imports of feed corn.
Neither the USDA nor the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has released a reaction to the new decree, Both rejected a Mexican proposal presented to them in December that was similar in scope to what was published Tuesday in Mexico’s Diario Oficial, which is comparable to the U.S. Federal Register.
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Mexico sent several ministers to Washington in December to deliver a compromise proposal that would keep the Mexican market open to U.S. feed corn while preventing genetically modified white corn from being used to make food in Mexico.
Doug McKalip, chief ag negotiator for USTR, and Alexis Taylor, USDA undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, traveled to Mexico City in late January to reject that proposal.
That proposed compromise, USDA and USTR said in a statement, was not “grounded in science” and threatened to “disrupt billions of dollars in bilateral agricultural trade, cause serious economic harm to U.S. farmers and Mexican livestock producers, and stifle important innovations needed to help producers respond to pressing climate and food security challenges.”