MEXICO – Researchers at a top Mexican agricultural university have unveiled advances in developing hybrid corn seeds to boost local production in a bid to offset imports of genetically modified (GM) yellow corn seeds from the U.S.
According to researchers at the Autonomous University of Chapingo, the hybrid seeds will help replace imported grain from the U.S. which is at the center of a major trade dispute.
The strides follow Mexican President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s efforts to reduce Mexico’s dependence on U.S. corn imports. However, his government has yet to significantly do so.
Reuters reports that the operational manager of the corn seed production project, Claudio Carballo, said they are going to make “available to the producer the seed that they need and the technological package to achieve the desired yields.
This latest move comes after nearly a year of talks between American and Mexican officials regarding Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopes Obrador’s executive order to ban imports of genetically modified corn.
Therefore, the project aims in two years to develop enough non-GM seed varieties cultivable in Mexico to replace about 6 million of the 18 million metric tons (MT) of corn that the country imports from the U.S. annually.
Carballo revealed that the hybrid seed varieties have been growing since May with testing in 2024 and a release for planting planned for 2025.
Mexico’s government has been seeking to ban GM corn for human consumption. However, it still permits GM corn for livestock feed and some industrial uses, such as processed food and cosmetics.
On Jan. 30, American officials sent Mexico a formal written request to explain the science behind their decision. The Mexican response we deemed insufficient by the United States.
In March, the two nations held technical consultations that were ultimately unsuccessful. That led the U.S. to call for formal dispute resolution settlement consultations in June.
After unsuccessfully solving the dispute, recently, the U.S. established a dispute resolution panel under the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA) to challenge Mexico’s ban on genetically modified corn for human consumption.
Trade Representative Katherine Tai said that the American officials seek to resolve their concerns and help ensure consumers have access to safe, affordable food and agricultural products.
Mexican officials said the U.S. has been unwilling to collaborate on new scientific research to study the health impact of GM corn.