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corn in husk

Photo by Wouter Supardi Salari on Unsplash

Corn is sacred in Mexico. Its roots can be traced to Aztec and Mayan creation stories that exalted the arrival of a crop that was key to their survival.

In modern times, maiz, as it is known in Spanish, maintains its cultural, spiritual and political prominence as a staple in Mexican cuisine – and, increasingly, a brewing trade dispute.

Mexico has drawn a line in the sand with the United States when it comes to genetically modified corn, barring its use and import for human consumption, and gradually phasing it out for livestock feed or industrial uses.

After months of negotiations, US officials announced last month that they were pulling a lever under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), seeking an intermediary to resolve the dispute.

For Mexico, the issue is multi-pronged, but rooted in ensuring the affordability and availability of a crucial crop, experts say. For the US, it is about business. Corn is its biggest crop and the vast majority of it is genetically engineered.

Far from a regional issue, it is...