Cotton production in Mexico has plummeted 33% from its all-time high in 2018-2019, to 1 million 201,000 bales (261,000 tons), noted the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Mexico has not reported any official approval of biotech food or feed products since May 2018.
Furthermore, Mexico has rejected or delayed all permit applications for the cultivation of transgenic cotton in 2019, citing the precautionary principle.
“Cotton is the only transgenic crop planted in Mexico, and although production reached a record in the 2018/2019 marketing season, the lack of updated seed availability along with additional challenges in the sector has significantly reduced production (approximately a reduction 33%) and quality, ”the USDA said in a report.
Cotton is the only commercially produced transgenic crop in Mexico, with characteristics that include resistance to lepidopteran insects and tolerance to the herbicides dicamba, glufosinate ammonium and glyphosate. According to the USDA, growers have faced a cottonseed shortage since 2019, as the Mexican government continues to reject or delay approvals for transgenic cottonseed permits, citing the precautionary principle and concerns about the transgenic varieties that intermingle with traditional wild cotton populations in the south of the country.
The only events approved for planting in Mexico are outdated and unavailable in the world market, and growers report they don’t have enough seeds to plant. Cotton is grown in various parts of the country, with growing conditions that vary dramatically. The varieties available are often not compatible with all areas, creating even more volatility, uncertainty in quality, and rising costs of production.
In Mexico, the process of obtaining approval to plant cotton is granted through permits from the Ministry of Agriculture, distributed directly to seed companies that request it to cultivate a specific number of hectares.
After obtaining permits, companies sell seeds directly to producers within the approved area. Until June 2021, the seed trade was down 86% compared to the same period in 2020, reaching only $ 2 million.
Historically, all cottonseed is imported from the US, however the USDA suggests that only 40% of the seeds planted in this period were purchased from US companies.