MEXICO CITY, MEXICO — Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador reiterated during a news conference on Nov. 9 that his country cannot make purchases of yellow corn from the United States because it is against importing genetically modified corn, Reuters reported.

“There is a market for it, but the government cannot make a purchase because we do not want GM,” Lopez Obrador said, according to Reuters. “We are a free and sovereign country.”

Lopez Obrador issued a presidential decree on Jan. 1, 2021, that seeks to ban genetically modified corn in 2024 and phase out the herbicide glyphosate, which is found in Roundup Ready corn. Mexico imports about 17 million tonnes of GM corn per year and the United States is its top supplier.

More than 90% of all corn planted in the United States is genetically modified.

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 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 loss of $521.5 million after accounting for gains from lower GM corn prices, according to the study.

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has said the United States could use the USMCA trade pact to challenge Mexico’s policies if needed.