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Free Trade, Corn, and the Environment: Environmental Impacts of US - Mexico Corn Trade Under NAFTA

Author

Listed:
  • Flores, Regina
  • Ney, Luke
  • Gallagher, Kevin P.
  • Wise, Timothy A.
  • Ackerman, Frank

Abstract

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had a profound impact on corn trade between the United States and Mexico. Negotiated tariff reductions and the Mexican government's decision not to charge some tariffs to which it was entitled resulted in a doubling of US corn exports to Mexico. This paper examines the environmental implications of this change on both sides of the border. For the US, increased exports to Mexico due to trade liberalization represent one percent of total US production and should therefore be considered responsible for one percent of the environmental impacts of corn production. These are considerable, including: high chemical use; water pollution due to runoff; unsustainable water use for irrigation; the expansion of genetically modified corn; soil erosion; and biodiversity loss. Trends in these areas are presented. For Mexico, the principal potential environmental impact of the loss of a significant share of its domestic corn market to the US is the threat to agro-biodiversity. Preliminary evidence is presented on the extent to which imports and declining prices are reducing the production of native corn varieties. The authors conclude that shifting corn trade under NAFTA is having significant negative environmental effects on both sides of the border and could have even more profound impacts in the future if it results in the loss of significant agro-biodiversity in Mexico.

Suggested Citation

  • Flores, Regina & Ney, Luke & Gallagher, Kevin P. & Wise, Timothy A. & Ackerman, Frank, 2003. "Free Trade, Corn, and the Environment: Environmental Impacts of US - Mexico Corn Trade Under NAFTA," Working Papers 15604, Tufts University, Global Development and Environment Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:tugdwp:15604
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    File URL: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/15604/files/wp030006.pdf
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. James Boyce, 2004. "A Future for Small Farms? Biodiversity and Sustainable Agriculture," Working Papers wp86, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    2. Ackerman, Frank & Stanton, Elizabeth A. & Massey, Rachel, 2006. "European Chemical Policy and the United States: The Impacts of REACH," Working Papers 37242, Tufts University, Global Development and Environment Institute.
    3. Frank Ackerman, Elizabeth Stanton, and Rachel Massey, "undated". "06-06 “European Chemical Policy and the United States: The Impacts of REACH”," GDAE Working Papers 06-06, GDAE, Tufts University.
    4. James Boyce, 2007. "Is Inequality Bad for the Environment?," Working Papers wp135, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    5. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:7:p:2164-:d:154305 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Yankuic Galvan-Miyoshi & Robert Walker & Barney Warf, 2015. "Land Change Regimes and the Evolution of the Maize-Cattle Complex in Neoliberal Mexico," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 1-24, August.

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    Keywords

    International Relations/Trade;

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