Editor's Note: This report contains assessments of commodity and trade issues made by USDA staff and not necessarily statements of official U.S. government policy.

On Aug.19, 2015 a federal judge from the XII District Court overturned a 2013 measure that prevented biotechnology companies, universities, or public research institutes from planting genetically engineered (GE) corn in Mexico. Later that same day, supporters of the injunction appealed the decision. Now a Federal Magistrate will need to pronounce within the next several days if he is agrees or not with the judge to uphold the decision to overturn the 2013 ruling or agrees with the groups supporting the continuation of the injunction.

The order on Aug. 19 to overturn the injunction followed a 2013 collective lawsuit against the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) and the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and some agricultural biotech companies directing them to suspend the granting of permits for experimental, pilot and commercial release of GE corn in Mexico. If the magistrate agrees with the judge, SAGARPA and SEMARNAT could regain the authority to approve or disapprove permits for the release of GE corn planting.

Background: While Mexico has a sophisticated structure in place for the regulation of agricultural biotechnology, its implementation has been a very different story. As the “center of origin”, corn is an important aspect of Mexican identity. In this charged environment, the Government of Mexico (GOM) has continued to move forward with extreme caution in making any decisions related to biotechnology. Any biotech approval for GE seed has three stages: experimental, pilot, and commercial. The GOM (SAGARPA) had issued approvals before the 2013 injunction for the first two stages for GE corn. The GOM has issued no approvals for commercial GE corn plantings.

In December 2013, a federal district judge from Mexico City accepted an injunction placed on all planting activities involving genetically engineered (GE) corn in Mexico. The order followed a collective lawsuit against the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) and the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and some agricultural biotech companies directing them to suspend the granting of permits for experimental, pilot and commercial release of GE corn in Mexico. The injunction blocking GE corn permits was initially passed in October, 2013 as a result of a collective lawsuit filed by a group of social activists. After almost two years, a Mexican federal judge from the XII District Court has now overturned the 2013 measure that prevented biotechnology companies, universities, or public research institutes from planting genetically engineered (GE) corn in Mexico. Reportedly, the court decided to lift the injunction because it was not provided sufficient proof that GE crops caused any damage to the health of consumers or the environment. The federal court decision could be the first step toward the commercial use in Mexico of GE corn. Mexico is the third largest importer of corn in the world.