Mexico Bans GMO Corn
A ruling by a judge in Mexico City has suspended the planting of genetically modified corn in our country.
“The issue at hand relates to cultivation,” Andrew Conner, manager of global technology for the U.S. Grains Council told Agriculture.com Wednesday. “We’ve been tracking this for quite a while to make sure it doesn’t spill over into trade barriers.”
“In the case of Mexico, we have no reason to believe that what is happening now, with the ruling of the judge, will spill over and affect imports,” Conner said.
Mexico usually ranks second behind Japan as the largest export market for U.S. corn.
The release of genetically modified corn is a controversial issue in Mexico, the birthplace of corn. Home to scores of traditional corn varieties. And scientists have found low levels of modified genes in native corn, even though a moratorium on planting genetically modified corn has been in effect since 1998.
The Mexican government has been moving toward approval of planting genetically modified corn in an effort to increase the crop’s production in a nation that imports almost a third of the corn it consumes, mostly for livestock feed.
Last July, a coalition of 53 groups and individuals, including scientists, activists and human rights groups, filed suit to block field trials of genetically modified corn planned by most of the major international corn seed companies in Mexico.
The ruling, which is a suspension, was considered a major victory for the groups because it was the first time Mexican courts were willing to weigh in on the debate over risks and benefits of this technology.
The judge cited the risk of imminent harm to the environment as the basis for his decision.
Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, Enrique Martinez y Martinez, told the newspaper, El Economista, that the agriculture department has always planned to base its decisions regarding the field testing of genetically modified corn based on scientific criteria. But, the delays and litigation is now in the hands of attorneys and, for the moment, there will be no more permits.
Depending on how the litigation plays out, and whether it becomes a trade issue, this latest development may actually increase U.S. corn exports to Mexico.