The Mexican government is planning to phase out the use of glyphosate by the end of 2024.
The country has already blocked imports of the active ingredient of the world’s most commonly used herbicide, citing the precautionary principle and risk to the environment.
With his agriculture and environment ministries in conflict over the issue, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Wednesday said the Mexican government itself will no longer use any glyphosate, and that his administration intends to eliminate the use of glyphosate in the country within four years — before the end of his current term.
“We couldn’t get rid of it all at once,” the president told reporters, according to Reuters. “It can’t be done; it would hit food output. We would have to import, and the products we bring in would also be grown with the same agrochemicals.”
To begin, it appears the herbicide will only be allowed for removing weeds, but not for an in-crop application, a source in Mexico tells RealAgriculture, referring to a notice from the Mexican secretary of environment, natural resources, and fisheries’ office (SEMARNAT).
As expected, farm and crop protection industry groups are asking SEMARNAT to reverse its decision and allow imports of glyphosate, citing the approval of the herbicide as safe by regulatory authorities in many other countries, including Canada and the U.S.
The crops most affected include sugar cane and most fruits, such as oranges, peaches, and apples, as well as vegetables that are exported, as farmers will have to resort to alternative methods for weed control. López Obrador also referenced the use of glyphosate in flower production.
While there are questions swirling around the Mexican government’s ability to enforce a ban of glyphosate, from a Canadian agriculture perspective, there could potentially be questions about whether the ban will have any impact on Mexico’s maximum residue limits (MRLs) for glyphosate in crops that are imported into the country, including Canadian canola, oats, and wheat.
Canada is the second largest supplier of agri-food products to Mexico, behind the U.S. In 2018, Mexico’s agri-food imports from Canada were valued at C$2.5 billion, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. In addition to crops listed above, Mexico is also a significant and growing market for processed food products from Canada, including fresh pork, fresh beef, canola oil, malt, and frozen French fries.