Mexico's recent embrace of genetically engineered corn is an important step toward improving crop yields and stabilizing production. But more investment in irrigation and technology is needed to reduce the country's chronic dependence on U.S. imports.
March 2009 marked a historic moment for Mexico's agricultural sector. After years of debate and open confrontation between private companies and environmentalists, the Mexican Ministry for Agriculture changed the Bio-Safety Law, which regulates the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO), to allow the planting of genetically modified corn for experimental purposes. This is the first of several steps which will eventually lead to the commercialization of transgenic corn--or GM corn --in Mexico by the end of 2011.
Across the globe, corn is the second most important genetically modified crop, second only to soybean. The rapid spread of GM corn is based on the promise of improved crop yields. Companies marketing GM corn say crop yields can increase by as much as 15% to 20% compared to traditional local varieties. As a result, GM corn has been welcomed by the Mexican government as a solution to the country's chronic corn supply deficit and its dependence on U.S. imports.
Corn has always been Mexico's most important crop and the basis of Mexican diet. But despite being the birthplace of corn and the...