US Demands Formal Consultations With Mexico Over GMO Corn Dispute
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US Demands Formal Consultations With Mexico Over GMO Corn Dispute

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Antonio Gozain By Antonio Gozain | Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst - Mon, 03/06/2023 - 14:23

The US has requested formal trade consultations with Mexico over objections to the latter country’s plans to limit imports of genetically modified (GMO) corn and other agricultural biotechnology products.

“The US has repeatedly conveyed our serious concerns with Mexico’s biotechnology policies and the importance of adopting a science-based approach that complies with its USMCA commitments,” says US Trade Representative Katherine Tai. "Mexico’s policies threaten to disrupt billions of dollars in agricultural trade and they will stifle the innovation that is necessary to tackle the climate crisis and food security challenges if left unaddressed. We hope these consultations will be productive as we continue to work with Mexico to address these issues.”

The consultations are the first formal step before requesting a dispute settlement panel under the USMCA, which could ultimately lead to retaliatory tariffs if the dispute is not resolved. The announcement follows extensive engagement by USTR and US Department of Agriculture with the Government of Mexico on its biotech policies, including Tai’s discussions with Raquel Buenrostro, Mexico’s Minister of Economy.

The Government of Mexico has put forward an initiative to ban the import of GMO corn from the US, worrying its farmers about the potential loss of the single biggest export market for US corn. Mexico has been importing GMO feed corn from the US for years, buying about US$3 billion worth annually, according to AP.

President López Obrador said that the ban focused on corn for human consumption, as reported by MBN. GMO yellow corn imports for animal feed would still be allowed, pending a permit by COFEPRIS. Currently, Mexico imports about 17 million tons of corn from the US every year. About 18-20% of those imports represent white corn, used in the preparation of food products like tortillas.

Mexico is one of the oldest and strongest trading partners for the US and the US government expects that both countries can reach a mutually beneficial outcome through these consultations, according to the USTR’s press release.

“Mexico is an important partner, and we remain committed to maintaining and strengthening our economic and trade ties.  A robust, transparent agricultural trading relationship, founded on rules and science, is vital to ensuring food security, mitigating the lingering effects of food price inflation, and helping to address the climate crisis. Innovations in agricultural biotechnology play a key role in advancing these critical, global objectives,” says US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

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