(Natural News) Mexico plans to ban genetically modified (GM) corn and glyphosate by January 2024. And agrochemical giants operating in the United States where Mexico gets over a quarter of its corn are not happy about it. Emails revealed companies like Bayer AG, along with U.S. officials, are pressuring Mexico to drop the ban.
In a letter sent Thursday, April 29, to important figures in the Biden administration, a coalition of 80 nonprofit groups in the U.S. wrote that they strongly object to any interference by U.S. government officials in a sovereign state’s right to enact policies that protect the health and well-being of its citizens.
The letter is referring to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s decree on Dec. 31 to ban GM corn, which has been linked to health concerns, and glyphosate, a potential cancer-causing agent present in herbicides.
The bold policy fulfills a campaign promise by the country’s populist president, whose own agricultural policies have begun to favor small-scale Mexican farmers. Some analysts say the decree also inadvertently helps protect consumers alarmed by the growing prevalence of chronic diseases associated with processed foods.
The letter, published online in English and Spanish, was confirmed to have been addressed to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Its lead author is Kristin Schafer, executive director of Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), an anti-pesticide group.
In a statement, Schafer said they are calling on Secretary Vilsack and Trade Rep. Tai to respect Mexico’s decision to protect both public health and the integrity of Mexican farming.
Schafer said it was unacceptable for U.S. agencies to do the bidding of corporations like Bayer, which are solely concerned with generating profits from pesticides and GM crops.
Notable signatories include Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety.
U.S. officials and Bayer join forces to quash glyphosate, GM corn phaseout
The letter highlighted a recent article by The Guardian in which journalist Carey Gillam reported how industry lobbyist CropLife America and biotech company Bayer AG have been working closely with U.S. officials to pressure the Mexican government into dropping its intended ban on glyphosate and GM corn.
Gillam’s report was based on internal emails from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and other agencies obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The emails detailed worry and frustration over Mexico’s decision to ban glyphosate and GM corn. In one email, the sender made a reference to staff within Lopez Obrador’s administration as “vocal anti-biotechnology activists.” Another email said Mexico’s health agency was becoming “a big-time problem.”
In the letter to Vilsack and Tai, Schafer wrote that the emails showed how the agrochemical industry has continuously sought to undermine the Mexican government’s decision to protect its people’s health, environment and the integrity of its food and farming systems.
The letter urged the U.S. agencies involved to resist and reject these efforts by the agrochemical industry.
Mexico to ban glyphosate, GM corn
In banning glyphosate, Lopez Obrador cited the growing body of evidence that glyphosate can lead to cancer. It has even racked Bayer thousands of lawsuits from consumers who said the weedkiller Roundup, now owned by Bayer, gave them cancer. Roundup contains glyphosate. (Related: Bayer strikes $2 billion deal over future Roundup cancer claims.)
Since late 2019, the Mexican government has stopped imports of glyphosate, citing the chemical’s classification by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a “probable carcinogen.”
On the other hand, the decree has profound implications for the future of GM corn in Mexico, the birthplace of corn. For starters, it formalizes current restrictions on the cultivation of GM corn, which came about after a citizen lawsuit challenged the government for permitting Monsanto’s planting of experimental GM corn.
But Mexico phasing out GM corn completely could deal a heavy blow to companies like Bayer, which have been developing GM crops and pesticides for decades.
Learn more about the dangers that GM crops pose to human health at GMO.news.