Latin America divided over GMOs

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Mexico and Brazil are two Latin American countries that are taking the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to growing genetically modified crops. Almost two weeks ago, a federal district judge in Mexico issued an injunction suspending field trials of genetically modified corn. Even though commercial production of GM corn has been banned in the country, the government had approved limited field trials earlier this year.

At the other end of the issue is Brazil, which has embraced GM crops, particularly soybeans. In particularly, Brazil has been working on a project to bring a GM bean to market that resists the golden mosaic virus, which can trim yields by 8 percent.

What’s ironic is that in Mexico, the country is opposed to GM crops, particularly corn, because it claims that the country’s native corn will be damaged and adulterated by GM corn. However, in Brazil, where beans are a popular meal, its citizens don’t have nearly the same fears. In Brazil, approximately 85 percent of the soybean crop is already GM.

It is surmised that Brazil’s adoption stems from the fact that Brazilian farmers lack subsidies and price supports. As a result, prices are more sensitive to weather, seeds and pesticides. They have more of an incentive to embrace seeds and technology that increases yields and needs fewer pesticides. In addition, the government has sought to gain energy independence through sugar cane ethanol, which is driving development of GM programs.

In Mexico, it continues to rely on small farms using artisanal landraces does not grow enough to meet its own demand. As a result, it has to import corn and it has been willing to accept GM corn imports. Brazil, on the other hand, is a major exporter of its commodities.  

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