Farmers watching closely as U.S. and Mexico remain at odds over biotech ban
An Illinois corn farmer says how the U.S. handles Mexico’s import ban on biotech corn could set a precedent for trade negotiations moving forward. Matt Rush tells Brownfield an agreement is an agreement. “We want to hold their feet to the fire on that,” he says. “Through the USMCA we have this negotiation tactic and we hope they implement it fully and hold Mexico accountable.”
During his comments at the recent Commodity Classic, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack told farmers the decree is not founded in science and the USDA along with USTR started the formal review process under the US-Mexico-Canada agreement. “To make sure we defend the notion of a science-based trading system,” he says. “That we send a strong message to the world about the safety of biotech products and we ensure we continue to have market access.”
Rush says he’s encouraged by the recent actions, but it’s crucial for that market to remain open. “For the past four or five years they’ve been our number one customer of U.S. corn and Illinois corn at that,” he says. “So we want to keep that relationship open with them.”
He says if consumers in Mexico want non-GMO corn, some growers would be willing to make adjustments. “But we know that GMO corn is sound and scientific,” he says. “We want them to take it first. At the end of the day we want to provide a safe and abundant food supply for the U.S., but also Mexico.”
The dispute over biotech corn stems from a 2020 decree by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador that sought to ban imports of biotech corn beginning in January 2024. Mexico issued a revised decree in February that banned biotech corn for food usage and left the door open for a future ban on biotech corn for feed, effective immediately.
Brownfield interviewed Rush during the 2023 Commodity Classic in Orlando, Florida.
AUDIO: Matt Rush, Fairfield, Illinois farmer, president, Illinois Corn Growers