A pioneer in Latin America, Mexico bans genetically modified corn and glyphosate

The Mexican government has given itself three years for the full application of the measure. The food industry is called upon to find sustainable alternatives.

Le Monde avec AFP

The announcements have been welcomed by environmental organizations and decried by the agro-industrial sector. The Mexican government has pledged to ban from its soil in three years genetically modified corn as well as the much contested herbicide glyphosate.

In a decree that came into force on 1 st In January, the government of left-wing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced that the authorities “will revoke and refrain from granting permits for the environmental release of genetically modified corn seeds” . Imports of transgenic maize will be gradually reduced until no import permits are issued within three years.

According to the government, this measure aims to contribute to food sovereignty and to protect the native corn of Mexico. The country is however a major importer of the cereal and has bought 714,900 tonnes of it on the world market, maize being a staple food ingredient and consumed daily in the famous tortillas.

The food industry urged to find sustainable alternatives

The herbicide glyphosate, classified since March 2015 as a “probable carcinogen” by the National Cancer Research Center (IARC), a body dependent on the World Organization for health (WHO), will be gradually eradicated with a total ban on January 31, 2024.

The decree provides that government agencies should refrain from acquiring or using glyphosate and that sustainable alternatives should be sought by the food industry. Thus, “agrochemicals, biological or organic of low toxicity, agroecological practices or those requiring intensive use of labor” are favored, notes the decree.

Controversial herbicide across the world , glyphosate is marketed by the American firm Monsanto, a subsidiary of the agrochemicals division of the German group Bayer, which announced at the end of June an agreement of more than 10 billion dollars to settle more than one hundred thousand disputes in the States alone. -United on Roundup, its glyphosate-based herbicide accused of causing cancer.


Environmental organization Greenpeace welcomed “the ban genetically modified corn and the gradual ban on glyphosate by 2024, as these are important steps towards ecological production that preserves biodiversity, ”the NGO said in a statement. According to Greenpeace, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and glyphosate endanger “the diversity of agricultural varieties kept in the fields which are fundamental for food production”.

Unlike defenders of the environment, Proccyt, an organization representing the food industry, considered this government decision a “step backwards”.

“It is an affront, overt and opportunistic, which affects the entire Mexican countryside and endangers the stability of prices and the availability of strategic foods such as corn,” the organization said in a statement. Proccyt further warned that Mexican farmers would lose their competitiveness against farmers who use the herbicide, especially Americans.

The rest of Latin America lagging behind

With these firm commitments, Mexico is establishing itself as a pioneer in Latin America and beyond.

In October, Argentina became the first country in the world to approve the marketing of genetically modified wheat, while in Colombia the government’s mass spraying of glyphosate to destroy underground coca crops is starting to be questioned.

/Le Monde Report. View in full here.