NewsLatin AmericaMexico prohibits transgenic corn for dough and tortillas, but allows it for animal consumption: the keys to the new presidential decree

Mexico prohibits transgenic corn for dough and tortillas, but allows it for animal consumption: the keys to the new presidential decree

A man places corn dough in one of the machines at a tortilla shop in Mexico City.Future Publishing (Getty Images)

The Government of Lopez Obrador published in extremis a new decree that opens the commercial borders to transgenic corn for fodder and industrial use and only closes it for human consumption. Faced with an imminent trade dispute with the United States over genetically modified grain, this Tuesday afternoon, the Mexican federal Administration has issued a new document with a precision that was not present in the previous decree, issued in December 2020. With the changes On corn imports and the use of glyphosate, Mexico intends to avoid a new trade battle with the US within the framework of the Free Trade Agreement (TMEC). Washington threatened days ago to escalate the conflict if its counterpart did not explain the ban on transgenic corn with scientific arguments.

The matter is not minor, Mexico is the main client of the United States in this grain, last year it acquired more than 15 million tons of transgenic corn. So far, the US government has not ruled on the modifications drafted by the Mexican Executive hours before the deadline given by Washington to obtain the scientific arguments on which the Mexican government based its veto on transgenic corn. “This decree eliminates all the uncertainty that the previous one had, which was not clear or precise. What is clear for the livestock and industrial sector is that the importation of corn, mainly yellow, will be allowed for this sector,” says Juan Carlos Anaya, director of the Agricultural Markets Consulting Group (GMCA).

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The specialist, however, says that it is still up in the air if the United States will agree with this response or ask for more reasons about this partial veto that the Mexican authorities continue to maintain on transgenic corn. “Although we import much more yellow corn, the white corn that we import, between 600,000 and a million tons, we bring from the United States or South Africa and this serves to supply the market in the southeast or the Mexican peninsula, if genetically modified corn is not allowed.” modified for the peninsula or the southeast, we will surely see the effect on prices in this area, since moving national white corn to that market will be more expensive,” he predicts.

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Alejandro Luna Arena, a partner at Santamarina + Steta, assures that Mexico made a technically correct decision because it did not have the scientific foundations to beat the US in a panel of trade disputes. In addition, he assured, the Government of Lopez Obrador showed a certain negotiation capacity that it had not shown in other conflicts and it only looks bad before a small group of consumers and environmentalists. “The behind-the-scenes negotiations worked for the United States, while the entry into force of the measure was partially postponed and, on the other hand, they managed to ensure that 90% of the corn imports that Mexico buys will not fall within what it was the scope of the decree ”, ditch.

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Throughout his Administration, the Government of Lopez Obrador has been changing its position on transgenic corn. In December 2020, the Executive issued a decree in which it set January 31, 2024 as the deadline for the use of glyphosate and envisioned on this date the total substitution of genetically modified corn grain, however, given the claim of producers on both sides of the border, months later, the federal authorities announced that this period would be extended until 2025. However, the postponement seemed insufficient to the US and attacked taking the case before a trade panel of the TMEC. Now, the new decree seems to shield, at least, the millions of tons of corn imported for fodder and industrial use. The Mexican Administration awaits Washington’s response.


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