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MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s corn production is estimated at about 28.5 million metric tons this year, its agriculture ministry said Tuesday, as the Latin American country defends its plan to limit the use of genetically-modified corn.

The production, which represents both white and yellow corn, marks growth of more than 2 million metric tons, the ministry said in a statement.

White corn, which is often used to make the country’s food staple tortillas, is expected to see a production of 24.9 million metric tons, while yellow corn’s output could reach 3.61 million metric tons this year, according to official data.

The government attributed the increase to its free fertilizer program for small-scale farmers. Mexico is currently embroiled in a dispute with trading partners the United States and Canada over its policies to limit the use of genetically-modified (GM) corn.

Mexico imports about $5 billion worth of US corn annually, the majority of which is GM yellow corn commonly used for livestock feed. A government decree, however, calls for a gradual substitution of GM corn and a ban on its use in tortillas or dough.

The US and Canada have requested trade dispute settlement consultations with Mexico under the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), arguing that Mexico’s plan is not based in science. Mexico said it would counter the arguments and that the ban will not affect trade with the United States.

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