MEXICO – Mexico’s incoming administration under President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum has announced it will not pursue the outgoing government’s objective of achieving self-sufficiency in yellow corn production. 

This move marks a departure from President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s agricultural policies, which aimed to reduce dependency on corn imports, particularly genetically modified (GM) corn from the United States.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador issued a decree to ban biotech corn imports in 2024 but allowed GM corn imports from the USA for feed manufacture as the country explored substitutes.

The decree created a rift between the two countries, especially because it would result in the cessation of nearly 17 million tonnes of GM corn that Mexico imported from the USA. 

A Reuters report indicated that the new administration will prioritize maintaining self-sufficiency in white corn, a staple essential for tortilla production. 

The decision strategically focuses on food security and cultural dietary needs while acknowledging the economic realities of yellow corn production and imports.

Julio Berdegue, the incoming agriculture minister, stated that Mexico will continue to rely on yellow corn imports to support its livestock sector. 

The country imports approximately US$6 billion of yellow corn annually, primarily from the United States, but the goal of reducing these imports still needs to be achieved.

President-elect Sheinbaum’s administration also intends to tackle environmental concerns by aiming to halve the deforestation linked to agriculture within six years. 

This plan addresses the annual loss of around 200,000 hectares of forest, primarily due to land clearing for avocado cultivation and livestock farming. 

The new policy underscores a commitment to sustainable agricultural practices and environmental conservation.

As Mexico awaits a ruling from a USMCA trade panel on the GM corn dispute, set to be delivered by the end of the year, the new administration is preparing to take office in October. 

The U.S. contends that Mexico’s restrictions on GM corn imports violate trade agreements, and the forthcoming decision could have significant implications for trade relations between the two countries.

In the meantime, Sheinbaum’s administration is focused on balancing increased agricultural production with environmental sustainability. 

This approach signals a nuanced shift in policy, seeking to address the economic and ecological challenges facing Mexico’s agricultural sector.

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