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Will Mexican GMO corn ban apply to animal feed?

branex/Thinkstock Ears of corn peeled in the field.
Mexican officials and producers to meet and discuss GMO corn ban.

By Amy Stillman and Michael Hirtzer

Mexican officials will meet with producers to decide on whether a new ban on genetically modified corn will apply to animal feed.

The meeting will take place “toward the end” of the coming week, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said in an emailed statement. The ministry will discuss the issue with producers along the supply chain, it said.

Mexico has banned genetically modified corn and will phase out imports over the next three years as part of the government’s efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in food production, according to a decree it issued on Dec. 31.

Mexico uses its own white corn to make the country’s staple tortillas, but relies on imports of mostly genetically-modified yellow corn from the U.S. for livestock feed. It was unclear from the decree whether the rules would affect feed for livestock, or only apply to corn for human consumption.

Mexico was the top destination for U.S. corn exports in 2019, bringing in about $2.7 billion in shipments, a vast majority of that the yellow No. 2 variety typically used to make animal feed, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Over 90% of U.S. corn is produced using genetically-modified varieties.

Mexico’s leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said the decision to remove GMO corn will help the environment. Yet AMLO, as he’s known, has been criticized for protectionist policies that clash with climate efforts. Under his government, Mexico has changed regulations to favor the state utility and hurt investment in renewables, and pursued two major infrastructure projects that environmentalists consider ecological disasters.

Under the new rules, Mexico will revoke permits and stop issuing new ones for the release of GMO corn seeds. By 2024, Mexico will phase out GMO corn imports and also the use of glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide in the U.S., that’s found in products such as Bayer AG’s Roundup.

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