WASHINGTON, DC, US — If Mexico follows through on a presidential decree to ban genetically modified corn in 2024, the economic consequences would be devastating for US farmers and Mexican consumers, according to a recently released study by World Perspectives, Inc.
The decree, issued by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Jan. 1, 2021, calls for a phase-out of glyphosate and GM corn by January 2024. Mexico imports about 17 million tonnes of GM corn per year, and the United States is the top supplier.
The study found that the US corn industry would lose $3.56 billion in the first year following a full ban, proceeded by a $5.56 billion loss in the second year, according to the report’s estimates. Over the 10-year forecast period, the corn industry would experience a $13.61 billion economic loss.
Over that same period, the US corn wet milling industry would suffer $7.65 billion in losses and the ethanol industry would incur a net loss of $521.5 million after accounting for gains from lower GM corn prices, according to the study.
The study also looked at the larger impact on the US economy, projecting a loss of $73.89 billion in economic output and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracting by $30.55 billion.
It also forecast a loss of more than 30,000 jobs annually with labor income falling by more than $18 billion.
Mexico’s GDP would drop by nearly $12 billion with an annual loss of nearly 60,000 jobs — along with causing the price of corn in Mexico to inflate by an average of 19% over a 10-year period, according to the report.
In an August meeting with Iowa farmers, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack downplayed the idea of banning imports, calling it a product of politics and a move to protect the country’s heritage. The country takes pride in its white corn varieties and wants to maintain its heritage corn seeds.
Vilsack said he told Mexican leaders that consumers could face rising food costs without US corn to feed livestock.
“That made an impression,” he said in the meeting. “And we’re in discussions about how we might get to a better place” on accepting biotech traits and continuing US corn sales to Mexico.
In mid-August, a MAIZALL delegation met with government representatives and industry stakeholders in Mexico to discuss the decree. MAIZALL includes members from Abramilho in Brazil, MAIZAR in Argentina and the National Corn Growers Association and US Grains Council (USGC) in the United States. Farmers from these countries produce 50% of the world’s corn and 81% of corn exports.
The group pointed out that it is unlikely enough non-GM corn will be available in international markets by 2024 to meet Mexico’s needs. This will lead to food insecurity and increased prices for many of its staple foods.