MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexico appeared to have scrapped plans on Monday to ban imports of genetically modified corn from the United States for animal feed.
Mexico’s Department of Economy said a new decree on the matter was published on Monday, revoking any date for replacing imports of genetically modified corn. Some imported corns are also ground into flour for use in corn chips or other snacks.
Following an earlier order, some US growers feared that a ban on GM feed corn could occur in 2024 or 2025. Mexico has argued that GM corn could pose a health risk, but has not provided any evidence so far.
American farmers fear the potential loss of the largest US corn export market. Mexico has been importing GM corn from the United States for years, buying about $3 billion annually.
The new decree also says that the Mexican authorities will make “the gradual replacement” of transgenic feed and ground corn, but does not set a date for this and says that possible health problems will be the subject of study by Mexican specialists “with health authorities from other countries .”
“Regarding the use of genetically modified maize for animal feed and industrial use, the ban date for its use has been eliminated,” the Department of Economics said in the statement. “Workgroups will be created with the national and international private sector to achieve an orderly transition.”
Mexico was where corn was first domesticated some 9,000 years ago, and the country has yet to ban imports of GM corn seed to protect native varieties.
Mexico will also ban the use of GM corn for direct human consumption, which in Mexico consists mainly of fresh white corn and white corn tortilla flour. Mexico does not need to import white corn from the United States, where most corn is yellow or sweet.
The Office of the US Trade Representative said Mexico’s earlier position was “not grounded in science” and “threatens to disrupt billions of dollars in bilateral agricultural trade, causing serious economic harm to US farmers and Mexican livestock producers.”
The US Commerce Office did not respond to requests for comment on the revised order posted on Monday.
There were fears that the ban could violate the US-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement. Mexico is hoping to avoid a full-fledged trade claim under the deal over the corn issue, as well as a dispute over Mexico’s energy sector.
The United States says Mexico is unfairly favoring its state-owned electricity and oil companies over US competitors and clean energy providers. Canada also joined this claim.