Seed World

Mexico Postpones U.S. Corn Ban

corn, tortilla chips

Country officials cite production and food security concerns.

Mexico has been threatening to ban importing GMO corn since Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador issued a decree In January 2021. Mexico had set a deadline of March 31, 2024 to enact the ban. That day came and went as Mexican officials decided to postpone the ban until 2025, citing concerns that it would threaten agricultural production and food security.

Some sources say the postponement will last until a replacement is found. The delay only kicks the can further down the road and leaves an air of uncertainty in its wake.

A U.S. corn ban could have significant impacts on the seed industry, particularly in terms of demand and supply dynamics. The ban could lead to reduced demand for genetically modified corn seeds, as Mexico is a major importer of U.S. corn. This might result in a shift in seed production priorities, with seed companies potentially focusing more on non-GM or alternative crop seeds to meet changing market needs. Additionally, the ban could prompt research and development efforts in the seed industry to create new varieties that comply with regulatory requirements and market preferences.

President Obrador’s stated intent for the ban was to protect the country’s traditional corn varieties. The glyphosate ban also called for Mexico to ban imported GM corn for use in dough and tortillas.  In addition, the decree gradually phased out GM corn imports for any kind of human consumption by 2024, and for use as animal feed (depending on supply) at an unspecified later date.

Glyphosate is at the center of the GM corn debate. Mexican government officials argue the pesticide is harmful to human health and to the environment.

The United States has challenged the proposed ban at every stop. The majority of corn the U.S. and Canada exports to Mexico is for animal feed or industrial use, which would not be affected by the ban. According to Ohio State University Extension, white corn makes up about 1% of U.S. corn production and is a common ingredient in Mexican diets.

The Mexican Ministries of Economy, Environment, Health and Agriculture and the Federal Commission for the Protection against Health Risks stated they will continue to try and find glyphosate alternatives during the postponement. No date was set as a new deadline.