Mexico Stands Its Ground on GM Corn Decree
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Mexico Stands Its Ground on GM Corn Decree

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Eliza Galeana By Eliza Galeana | Junior Journalist & Industry Analyst - Thu, 08/24/2023 - 08:23

Mexico rules out making further modifications to the decree that restricts the use of genetically modified (GM) corn, amid a panel requested by the US. Raquel Buenrostro, Minister of Economy, asserted that the decree poses no risk for grain imports. 

Buenrostro told Reuters that the federal government is not willing to make a new modification to the decree that prohibits the use of GM corn in food intended for human consumption. Her comments come after last week the US requested a dispute settlement panel under USMCA, as reported by MBN.

In February, Mexico modified the original GM corn ban issued back in 2020. The updated decree allows the use of transgenic corn for animal feed and industrial use for the cosmetics, textiles and paper sectors. However, the document kept the restriction on GM corn for human consumption, specifically in the use of flour for tortillas, which are an essential element of the Mexican diet.

Buenrostro pointed out that the current legal framework does not risk commercial relations between partner countries. "Mexican regulations do not prohibit imports of any type of corn from the US. Besides, Mexico is capable of satisfying its domestic demand for white corn, which is used to make tortillas," she emphasized. Tortillas in Mexico are made with non-transgenic white corn, in which the country is self-sufficient. On the other hand, it imports US$5 billion worth of yellow corn every year from the US, which is mostly used as grain for livestock feed.

The requested panel by the US followed a 75-day formal consultation period, which failed to resolve the parties' differences. Washington argues that Mexico's decree is not based on science and violates its commitments under USMCA, in effect since 2020. Nonetheless, Buenrostro claims that Mexico’s policy is legitimate and qualified US statements as unfounded. 

A few weeks ago, Mexico extended an invitation to the US to collaborate on scientific research regarding the impact of GMO corn on health, but the US declined this offer. Buenrostro stated that the US argues it already possesses FDA authorizations for the commercialization of this product, hence it is not willing to engage in more extensive research protocols. "This does not make sense, as a government genuinely concerned about public health would have no reservations about conducting a more complete investigation into the health implications of the grain in question," the minister said. 

In addition to the controversy surrounding GM corn, Mexico has another ongoing issue in the energy sector. In July 2022, the US and Canada requested a consultation period under USMCA, as they believe that Mexico’s nationalist energy policies discriminate against foreign companies. However, Buenrostro noted that the countries are now working on an agreement to settle their differences without resorting to a settlement panel.

Photo by:   Envato Elements, ckstockphoto

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