Today Farm Action sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, urging the agency to stand up for farmers by shifting more support to non-GM farming methods ahead of Mexico’s ban on the herbicide glyphosate and genetically modified (GM) corn.
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador issued this decree back in 2020, which phases out GM corn and glyphosate by 2024. Because more than 90% of U.S. corn is planted with seeds that are genetically modified to tolerate herbicides like glyphosate, this ban could eliminate 84% of U.S. corn exports to Mexico — potentially running thousands of farmers out of business and driving major losses for the U.S. economy.
Farm Action’s letter argues that the ban could have been a critical market opportunity for U.S. farmers if the USDA had taken action in 2020: “Had the USDA begun building support and infrastructure at this time, we would be in a very different position today — one in which U.S. farmers had growing access to a more competitive, more resilient market.” The letter references the greater profitability of marketing non-GM corn, including higher premiums and overall higher profits per acre for farmers.
“Unfortunately, instead of defending America’s farmers, we have seen the USDA using its hefty weight to side with the multinational seed and agrochemical conglomerates who stand to lose the most if this decree is put into effect,” the letter states.
On December 7, Mexico offered to extend the deadline for the ban until 2025, and is working on a proposal to overhaul its plan, according to Economy Minister Raquel Buenrostro.
“Mexico is not the first country to…push back against GM products — nor will it be the last,” the letter cautions. “[W]e urge you to consider Mexico’s proposal and begin work immediately to support and lift up alternative production models.”
Farm Action has been closely following this issue, and will continue to work with the agency on ways to use changing priorities in agriculture to the advantage of U.S. producers, instead of allowing them to become barriers to success.
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