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What Mexico’s ban on American GMO corn means

What Mexico’s ban on American GMO corn means

Despite losing a large chunk of its Mexico corn exports, the economic impact on US farmers may not be too severe.

By Andrew Joseph, Farms.com; Photo by Phoenix Han on Unsplash

Mexico plans to phase out imports of US-grown GMO corn and the herbicide glyphosate by 2024.

This isn’t new news, but it will impact the US going forward.

It was revealed in 2020 by the President of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, that part of the reasoning being that the GMO seeds could contaminate the heritage varieties native to Mexico. Oh, and then there are its researchers pointing out that glyphosate has some adverse effects.

Mexico is not shutting the door on US corn, stating that it will seek direct agreements with farmers in the US, Argentina, and Brazil to provide it with non-GMO yellow corn instead.

With the inclusion of possible agreements with both Brazil and Argentina cutting into corn sales, the US is a bit worried.

After China and its 20 percent of all US corn exports, Mexico is number two.

Mexico imports about 33 percent of its corn needs—16mmt (646 million bushels) just for its livestock needs.

As well, a lot of that US corn was being used to feed Mexico’s less fortunate people.  

The US believes that Mexico’s decision potentially violates the USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, formerly NAFTA) free trade obligations—and may have future reprocutions for any and all future trades between them.

For the US, it could recoup its economic loss in GMO corn by exporting it to China, but with trade relations low—pick a reason—China may look elsewhere.

The US could possibly grind its now excess GMO corn and use a higher blend of alcohol, but that’s only been hypothesized and is not a current reality.

Of course, all of this pondering may be academic.

Drought conditions in the US that are expected to continue over the next three years until the end of 2025—it’s all part of the 89-year drought cycle.

Because of the expected drought conditions, there is little expectation of farmers overproducing corn, meaning whatever economic impact the US will feel by losing Mexico as a customer for its GMO corn, it will not be severe.


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