Agricultural giant Monsanto hopes to double its sales in Mexico over the next five years, depending in part on whether permits for the cultivation of commercial-scale genetically modified corn are approved in the country, a company official said on Tuesday.

Mexico, one of the biggest corn producers in the world, is in the midst of a fierce, longstanding debate about whether to allow the cultivation of genetically modified corn. A final decision could soon be resolved in the courts.

U.S.-based Monsanto, like other large agricultural biotechnology firms, wants to sell genetically modified seeds in Mexico because it says they help farmers greatly increase the yields of their crops and enable them to use fewer pesticides.

"Our intention is to be able to double the business from here to 2020," Eduardo Perez, head of regulatory issues for Monsanto in northern Latin America.

Monsanto's global sales in fiscal year 2015 reached $15 billion dollars, including $400 million in Mexican sales.

In Mexico, 70 percent of Monsanto's sales are comprised of corn seeds that have been technologically altered. (Reporting by Adriana Barrera and Noe Torres; Writing by Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein; Editing by Michael Perry)

Originally Published: Reuters