Mexico delays approval of genetically modified corn fields

Commercial-scale approval will carry over into 2013, says agriculture secretary

Approval for commercial-scale genetically modified corn fields will carry into 2013 and under the government of incoming president Enrique Pena Nieto, according to Mariano Ruiz, deputy agriculture secretary. Permits will take four to five months to be approved, but as the incoming president is like-minded to outgoing President Felipe Calderon, they are still expected to go through eventually.

“I think we are in agreement generally over the importance of having this instrument, and that farmers have the tool of genetically modified organisms,” said Ruiz. The government must still designate “centers of origin” where genetically modified corn cultivation will be banned, as well as set other safety regulations. The delay will prevent five applications for commercial-scale genetically modified corn fields, totaling 2.5 million hectares, from going through.

Mexico plants 7.2 million hectares of corn per year, mostly white corn for human consumption, and domestic corn production in 2012 will total nearly 22 million metric tons, according to agriculture ministry data. It imported 9 million metric tons of yellow corn for animal feed in 2012.