Over the last five years, glyphosate has been a hot topic, especially in relation to the EU’s Green Deal. But now, we turn our attention a little closer to home and focus on Mexico, a country which has become a much more prevalent player when it comes to exporting American commodities.

Exports to Mexico from the United States

Product20182019202020212022Jan – Aug 2022Jan – Aug 2023
Vegetables and Preparations676,495735,080801,4431,056,5091,089,422673,892810,511
Fruits and Preparations790,166797,208750,7201,003,884965,937599,026641,312
Tree Nuts and Preparations370,010341,453327,407332,770394,808287,277217,693
Total1,836,6711,873,7411,879,5702,393,0932,450,1671,560,1951,669,516
Values in Thousands of Dollars, Data from the Foreign Agricultural Service Database

In 2021, Mexico published a decree calling for the phaseout of Glyphosate and genetically engineered corn. As you might guess, this created upset amongst farmers, commodity groups, and trade representatives from the United States, since corn exports to Mexico are a five-billion-dollar industry. Mexico’s stance has been and continues to be focused on sustainability, food security, protecting indigenous populations, and the cultural heritage of corn in the country. The United States argues that the decisions being made are not based on scientific fact and break the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

“Mexico’s approach to biotechnology is not based on science and runs counter to decades’ worth of evidence demonstrating its safety and the rigorous, science-based regulatory review system that ensures it poses no harm to human health and the environment. We are carefully reviewing the details of the new decree and intend to work with USTR to ensure our science-based, rules-based commitment remains firm,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement.

Timeline for Glyphosate Ban

January 7, 2021- Mexico publishes a final decree that calls for a phase out of glyphosate

FOG – Federal Official Gazette (dof.gob.mx)

November 24, 2022 – Total Ban on glyphosate gets stalled in the senate

Mexico Puts the Brakes on Glyphosate Ban As Country Strives for Food Sovereignty (bloomberglinea.com)

February 13, 2023 – New Decree Published clarifying the decree only relates to corn

Decree establishing various actions on glyphosate and genetically modified corn is published | Ministry of Economy | Government | gob.mx (www.gob.mx)

What This Means for the Industry

As it stands, Mexico is moving forward with its plan to ban imports of glyphosate. There is currently a transition period in effect until March 31, 2024. We’ve already seen the MRLs for corn and cotton go to lower allowable levels than U.S. MRLs. With the continued focus on eliminating glyphosate as a whole, non-cotton and corn commodity boards are preparing for the possibility that their product might be next.

“When you start phasing out a pesticide for local farmers but still allow crops which use it to be imported, you create an unfair advantage. As we’ve already seen with corn, this move to ban glyphosate is going to impact trade in the United States” explains Tom Jones, Senior Director of Analytical Services. “The general feeling in the industry regarding Mexico, is that the president is extremely dedicated to his cause surrounding the ban of glyphosate. People are concerned the ban is more focused on politics than on the food supply”.

We have seen a number of regulations around the world emphasizing environmental impact and food safety concerns without necessarily having the scientific evidence to back it up. Consider Prop 65, a California law which targets pesticides like glyphosate aggressively, while not always having the backing of other government agencies like the EPA.

In Europe, it was just announced that a ten-year extension will be used for glyphosate after the European Commission was unable to reach a “qualified majority”, 55% of the 27 members. This leaves some member countries like Germany and environmental groups very unhappy and shows that the debate about this pesticide and important tool for pest management is far from over.

As a result of the continued focus on glyphosate, Safe Food Alliance is participating in a multi-year study with the Almond Board and UC Davis on the translocation of glyphosate in almonds. The study aims to determine if translation occurs to the edible nut. These findings can hopefully create better justification for science-based legislation.

Keeping up with the changing regulatory environment is challenging when there are so many players in the game. If you have a product which requires glyphosate testing, Safe Food Alliance is not only ready to test your product, but we are also strategically placed to help you tackle the changing rules proactively.