Mexican Progress on Biotech Crops
The Mexican government has been supportive of the development of biotech crops, including corn, while recognizing the genetic diversity of native corn species.
Biotech-derived crops are still not commercially cultivated in Mexico. However, the government of Mexico has continued to grant permits to developers for experimental releases of genetically-modified corn into the environment.
According to the Bio-safety Law, it is in the best interest of biotech developers to complete the experimental stage as soon as possible to begin the pilot stage and, afterwards, the commercialization stage. Mexico has no significant trade barriers to biotech crops or foods derived from biotechnology.
Mexico was the United States’ second largest agricultural trading partner in 2009, while the United States was Mexico’s principal agricultural trading partner with nearly 80 percent of Mexico’s agricultural exports going to its northern neighbor.
In 2009, U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico were valued at $13.9 billion, while U.S. imports of Mexican agricultural products were valued at a record $11.9 billion. The impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been substantial, with U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico increasing by $9.3 billion between 1994 and 2009 and Mexican agricultural exports to the United States increasing by $8.5 billion in the same time frame. Mexico is the largest market for U.S. soy-meal, sorghum, dry beans, rice, apples, beef, dairy, swine, and turkey.
The Secretariat of Agriculture approved 23,000 acres of commercial biotech cotton for 2011 and may approve up to 500,000 acres for 2012. Mexico could be self-sufficient in cotton production by 2016 and an exporter by 2020. According to Agro Bio, biotech cotton requires only 0.4 quart of insecticide per acre instead of 4.0 to 5.0 quarts of pesticide applications for non-biotech seed.
Under the Bio-safety Law and its Implementation Rules (Reglamento), three different agencies are responsible for Mexico’s biotech policies, while the Inter-Ministerial Commission on Biosecurity and Genetically Modified Organisms (CIBIOGEM) coordinates Mexico’s biotech activities.