MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A Mexican federal judge banned the entry of fresh potatoes from the United States amid concerns that pests they contain may damage the environment, Mexico’s Federal Judicial Council (CJF) said on Tuesday.
The judge, based in Los Mochis in the northern, potato-producing state of Sinaloa, held that measures taken by Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture (SAGARPA) could not guarantee the prevention of the spread of 63 quarantine pests present in potatoes from the United States.
The judge declared SAGARPA’s measures unconstitutional on the grounds that the threat of pests violates the human right to a healthy environment and food security.
SAGARPA said in a statement late on Tuesday that the judge’s decision was not final, and that all government decisions on trade were based on scientific criteria and the law.
According to official data, last year’s total shipment of fresh potatoes from the United States totaled 122,796 tons. Between January and April this year, the figure amounted to 36,516 tons.
Mexico produced 1.679 million tons of potatoes in the 2014 agricultural cycle, as per the most recent data available. The main producers are the states of Sonora and Sinaloa, both in the north, and Puebla, in central Mexico.
Mexico’s Economy Ministry had no immediate comment on the decision of the court.
Reporting by Alizeh Kohari; Editing by Sandra Maler