Mexico City — Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has issued a new decree that moderates the government’s stance regarding the ban on glyphosate and genetically modified (GM) corn, but which maintains the spirit of the ban of the original decree, and which paves the way for a trade dispute with the United States under the terms of the USMCA trade agreement, signed by the two countries and Canada.
AMLO, as the president is known, published the decree on Monday, and which follows the decree regarding the use of glyphosate and genetically modified corn published in December 2020.
Washington stated on January 23 that the changes to the decree proposed by the Mexican president were insufficient. A statement issued Monday by the Economy Ministry did not specify whether the changes to the new decree are those that the US government described as insufficient, or whether they are new adjustments.
AMLO extends glyphosate prohibition
The decree published on Monday establishes that the Mexican government will refrain from granting authorizations and permits for the import, production, distribution and use of glyphosate, and will carry out actions conducive to the generation of sustainable and “culturally appropriate” alternatives and practices, in order to maintain the country’s level of agricultural production.
The new decree set as a transition period for the prohibition of glyphosate from Tuesday, February 14, 2023 to March 31, 2024, which implies extending the prohibition by two months, since the previous decree had set January 31, 2024 as the deadline.
The decree sets out the implementation of alternatives for the gradual substitution of the use, sale, distribution, promotion and importation of glyphosate and agrochemicals used in Mexican agriculture.
It also ordered that the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) will be in charge of developing alternatives and “agro-ecological and healthy practices” that will make it possible to replace glyphosate.
GM corn banned for human consumption
AMLO’s new decree establishes a categorization of corn according to its use: human food (dough and tortilla), fodder for animals, and industrialized for human consumption.
Under these specifications, the government will not grant authorization for the use of genetically modified corn grain for human consumption.
In the meantime, the Mexican authorities will take the necessary actions to carry out the gradual substitution of genetically modified corn for animal feed and industrial use for human consumption, according to the decree.
Until such substitution is achieved, the federal commission for protection against health risks (Cofepris) will be able to grant authorizations for the use of genetically modified corn for animal feed and its industrial use for human consumption.
According to the Economy Ministry’s press release, the decree prohibits the use of genetically modified corn for dough and tortillas, which “does not affect trade or imports because Mexico is more than self-sufficient in the production of GM-free white corn”.
He added that, regarding the use of genetically modified corn for fodder and industrial uses, the new decree eliminates the deadline for prohibiting its use, subject to the existence of a sufficient supply. The deadline in the original decree was January 31, 2024.