Farm group, congressional delegation cheer challenge of Mexican ban on GMO corn

By: - June 3, 2023 5:00 am

An estimated 40% of Nebraska’s corn is sold to ethanol plants. This corn field, pictured last summer, was in Saunders County, Nebraska, just outside of Ashland. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — The state’s largest farm organization, as well as members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation, are cheering actions taken by the Biden administration to challenge Mexico’s ban on genetically modified white corn.

On Friday, U.S. trade representatives announced that the United States has requested dispute settlement consultations with Mexico over that country’s proposed ban on GMO corn.

Mexico is Nebraska’s largest corn trading partner, according to the Farm Bureau.

The impending ban, modified in February, impacts GMO corn used for dough or tortillas, but farmers are concerned the ban might extend to corn used for feed and commercial use — the bulk of corn exports.

“As a leading producer of white corn, Nebraska farmers are at great risk if Mexico’s planned ban on bioengineered white corn and glyphosate is allowed to proceed in 2024,” said Mark McHargue, Farm Bureau president.

The challenge is being made under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., and U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., were among delegation members on Friday supporting the administration’s action.

“This is yet another important step towards preventing Mexico’s flagrant violation of USMCA,” Fischer said in a statement. “We should use every tool at our disposal to stop this unscientific and economically damaging ban.”

Reuters has reported that Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said GM seeds can contaminate Mexico’s age-old native varieties and has questioned their impact on human health.

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club's Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling and writing about the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.