Genetically modified corn has always been contentious in Mexico. Maize, as it is known in most of the world, is the core of the country’s diet and cuisine. The global food crop was first domesticated in Mesoamerica, which now is home to the richest store of crop biodiversity in the world. Farmer, environmental and consumer groups successfully won and defended a 2013 injunction to stop agrochemical companies from planting GM maize in Mexico, arguing that it violated Mexicans’ constitutional guarantee of the right to a clean environment. That right was deemed to include protection of cross-pollination of native maize varieties by GM maize. In 2020, a presidential decree outlawed the cultivation of GM maize and announced the phaseout by 2024 of glyphosate, the toxic herbicide, and imports of GM maize. Agribusiness lobbies in the U.S. and Mexico have vigorously opposed the looming restrictions. Some have called on the U.S. government to initiate a formal trade dispute under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) — the new NAFTA — under the agreement’s new Agricultural Biotechnology section.
IATP has analyzed the USMCA text, finding no basis for such a claim. IATP researchers have followed ongoing controversy in close collaboration with allies in Mexico who seek to defend the country’s sovereign right to take measures to protect public health, the environment and its cultural heritage.
“Mexico’s Highest Court Rejects Appeal of GM Corn Ban,” Food Tank, October 15, 2021.