Delay of Mexican ban on glyphosate

 In 2023, the Mexican government published a decree that called the phase-out of the herbicide glyphosate and the elimination of genetically modified corn. The Mexican ban on glyphosate was expected to come into force on the 1st of April 2024. End of March though, President Lopez Obrador postponed this measure until further notice.

Beeld: ©Erik Aquino / Erik Aquino

This policy reversal comes in response to resistance from some agricultural groups. They have put pressure on the announced policy by noting that production of certain crops could fall by 40 percent. In a shared message, the Ministries of Economy and Agriculture have stated that there is no pesticide that could replace glyphosate and that this forms a threat for the country’s food security. Therefore, glyphosate will remain in use while the government continues to seek a ‘low-toxicity’ alternative herbicide that would allow agricultural productivity to be maintained.

Mexican elections and US – Mexico relationship

The reversal of the ban can be seen in the light of Mexico’s presidential elections in June ‘24, and the relationship between the two countries. Mexico and the United States are in the midst of an official trade dispute, as, with the previously mentioned decree, the Mexican government tries to block the import of genetically modified corn from the US. Mexico is afraid of health risks of genetically modified corn, including the residues of glyphosate that it says to contain.

Disappointment – should Mexico depend on agrochemicals for food security?

Many organizations have shown their disappointment in the delay, and indicate that Mexico’s food production has never depended, or should never depend on an imported agrochemical.  The National Council for Humanity, Science and Technology of Mexico (CONACYT) states that it has been coordinating the development of new bioherbicides with more than 90% efficacy. These products are in the last stages of approval for use. Furthermore, they have identified international products as alternatives, such as Beloukha, Burn Out Formula 2 and Weed Zap (approved by the EU and US). They note that already 7 million hectares are cultivated without glyphosate of agrichemicals in Mexico. Furthermore, they indicate that the decrease in the import of glyphosate has not implied a drop in the production of foods such as corn and others. Producers that use agroforestry and the traditional milpa system (corn with interspersed fruit trees) have transitioned to systems of food production without the use of glyphosate and unwanted environmental impacts.