Mexico has found unexpected allies as it tries to limit imports of genetically modified (GM) corn: some U.S. farmers who grow the crops.
Farmers have for decades planted GM corn, which protects against insects and weedkillers, with seeds sold by companies like Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE), Corteva Inc (CTVA.N) and ChemChina’s Syngenta.
But as believers in a free market, some say the U.S. should agree to sell Mexico non-GM corn, rather than deepen a trade dispute over the proposal, and note they could earn a premium for growing more conventional corn
I’m all for free and fair trade,” said Fred Huddlestun, who grows GM corn and soybeans in Yale, Illinois. “When they get to the point they’re pushing somebody to buy something they don’t want, then I have concerns about that.”
Mexico is the largest buyer of U.S. corn and the proposed restrictions threaten to disrupt some of the nearly $5 billion of corn the U.S. ships to Mexico annually, or 95% of Mexico’s total corn imports.
Mexico said in February it would ban GM corn for consumption by people, backpedaling from previous plans that clouded the future of imports for livestock feed, the destination of the vast majority of its imported corn.
Supporters of the policy say GM corn can contaminate Mexico’s age-old native varieties and have questioned its impact on human health.
The Biden administration says restrictions would violate the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and last month requested trade consultations with Mexico in the first formal step toward a request for a dispute settlement panel under the pact. U.S. officials met with counterparts in Mexico last week.
Mexico’s proposed restriction on corn for human consumption is expected to affect white corn imports, used primarily for tortillas, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report