MEXICO CITY, Oct. 8 (Reuters) – Bayer is reviewing its legal options after Mexican health authorities rejected an application for approval for GMO corn for the first time, the German pharmaceutical and plant research giant said in a statement to Reuters on Friday with the decision as “unscientific”.
Reuters reported earlier in the day that regulator Cofepris has refused corn approval for future import as President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government toughens its opposition to genetically modified crops.
“We are disappointed with the unscientific reasons Cofepris used to refuse approval,” the statement said, identifying the rejected corn variety as using proprietary HT3 x SmartStax Pro technology.
Bayer stressed that the denial of approval has no impact on ongoing business, noting that the company stopped work on its HT3 hybrid maize varieties in favor of a new HT4 line last year due to regulatory delays in the European Union , which the company is expected to bring to market a decade later.
Bayer nevertheless criticized what it called continuous regulatory delays at Cofepris and the possibility of further refusals that could have “devastating effects” on Mexican supply chains.
The company said genetically modified crops, including corn, have undergone more safety tests than “any other crop in the history of agriculture” and were found to be safe for humans, animals and the environment.
The Cofepris press office did not respond to several requests for comments.
Lopez Obrador issued a controversial decree late last year outlining a three-year plan to ban the weed killer glyphosate and GMO maize for human consumption.
Industry associations have harshly criticized the plan and tried unsuccessfully to convince the judges to knock it down as it risks a trade dispute with the US. If the ban is interpreted to include animal feed or other industrial uses, consumers will ultimately be hit with higher food prices.
However, the proposed ban is popular with environmentalists and healthy food advocates, who argue that spraying glyphosate on the GMO plants that are designed to tolerate them is actually harmful.
Glyphosate was developed by the Roundup brand for herbicides from the agrochemical company Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018 as part of a $ 63 billion acquisition.
Reporting by David Alire Garcia in Mexico City; Editing by Christian Plumb and Matthew Lewis
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