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U.S. Corn a Threat to Mexico

Global Brief

U.S. Corn a Threat to Mexico

Mexico is taking a stand to protect its ancient corn varieties from the potential contamination caused by genetically modified (GM) seeds by phasing out GM corn by 2024. The move has sparked tension with the United States. Nearly 30 percent of all U.S. corn exports went to Mexico between 2018 and 2020. U.S. officials are arguing that the ban violates the countries’ trade agreement and are demanding scientific evidence to support Mexico’s claim. There is concern among American policymakers that the ban on GM corn could lead to further restrictions in the future.

Mexicans farmers and officials assert that GM corn poses risks to human health and threatens their country’s agricultural traditions and cultural identity. Corn originated in Mexico nearly 10,000 years ago, and the country is home to more than 59 unique varieties. These native varietals have evolved to adapt to the local environment, with some being more drought tolerant and pest resistant. GM corn poses the risk of genetic contamination, as pollen from GM crops can cross-pollinate with native varieties, altering their genetic makeup and making them less suited to their specific conditions.

Some experts argue that banning GM corn alone will not be enough to protect native corn, pointing to the decline in small-scale farms as a greater threat. Conservation efforts, they assert, should focus on not only storing seeds in gene banks, but also supporting the vital contributions of traditional farmers.

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