AMLO Allows Transgenic Corn for Animal Feed, Industrial Use

Photo: Andre Ouellet/Unsplash


Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) on Tuesday, Feb. 14, softened his stance on his planned ban on transgenic corn from the United States, clarifying that it can continue to be used in industrial processes and animal feed.

The new decree, published in the evening edition of the government’s Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF), also extends until March 30, 2024, the deadline for “the development and escalation of actions” that lead to eliminating the use of the herbicide glyphosate in Mexico.

López Obrador was responding to a request by the United States “to explain the science behind Mexico’s planned bans” on transgenic corn and glyphosate herbicide.

According to Doug McKalip, the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) chief agricultural trade negotiator, Mexico’s response will be instrumental in helping the USTR decide the next steps to take to resolve a long-running dispute over Mexico’s biotechnology agricultural policies under the AMLO government.

Tuesday was the deadline for Mexico to explain to the United States its prohibition of genetically modified (GM) corn and glyphosate, an issue that — if unresolved — threatens to lead to a panel under violations of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Mexico is currently in dispute-settlement talks with the United States.

“Mexico currently stands as the second largest export market for U.S. corn, next to the People’s Republic of China, and the market continues to grow year over year,” read an article from the Wilson Center, and that “90 percent of US corn is genetically modified, which means this policy has the potential to seriously disrupt agricultural trade between the two partners.”

In 2020, López Obrador issued a decree that ordered the total elimination of transgenic corn from the diet of Mexicans no later than January 31, 2024, but did not distinguish between the various uses of the grain — which led to complaints from corn farmers in the United States.

Mexico is one of the largest purchasers of U.S. corn, with American farmers sending about 17 million tons of mostly GM yellow corn to the country annually, majority of which is used for animal feed.

The new decree now only prohibits GM corn for direct human consumption — specifically in masa harina and tortillas — but does not set a date to eliminate transgenic corn for animal feed and industrial use, although the decree states that, eventually, it will be 100 percent eliminated.

An article by Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) titled “Scientific File on Glyphosate and Genetically Modified (GM) Crops,” mentioned that “Mexico is self-sufficient in hybrid and native white corn, and other varieties and colors of corn that is fit for human consumption,” but added, however,  that “high volumes of transgenic yellow corn have been imported, the use of which has been mainly for animal feed, limited use in in the starch industry and, to a lesser extent, for human consumption.”

For 20 years, various groups in Mexico have been seeking a ban on GMOs or transgenics.

“We are denouncing transgenics, which cause damage to the health of humans and the environment. As scientists, we have verified the effects of GMOs in several studies,” read an article published in Greenpeace Mexico, which talks about the consequences of genetically modified corn and glyphosate, including negative implications for Mexican farmers and indigenous people in the country, putting the diversity of local agricultural varieties at risk and weakening Mexico’s food sovereignty and self-sufficiency.

López Obrador, in the past, has also mentioned the dangers of using glyphosate as a herbicide, citing a study from the World Health Organization (WHO), which considered the chemical as “cancerous.”

The Conacyt said it has been working to produce “healthier alternatives” for glyphosate, with the goal of improving agricultural production in the country, but without compromising the health of grain consumers.


Leave a Reply