US Threatens to Sue Mexico Over BiotechBy Jan Hogewoning | Fri, 06/19/2020 - 10:39
During a congressional testimony this Wednesday, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stated he may sue the Mexican government if it does not approve US biotech products. Biotechnology was a contentious topic in USMCA negotiations. In the past, President Lopez Obrador has personally expressed his disapproval of several biotechnologies.
The US trade representative indicated he will initiate USMCA consultations with Mexico over biotech products after July 1st. Meanwhile, a senior Mexican oficial stated that the issue was a temporary consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, delaying approval of any biotech imports, Inside Trade reports.
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Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Víctor Villalobos, stated on Friday that the basic basked programs (Canasta Basica) have been able to reach 5.5 million families, the majority living in rural areas. The Agency for Mexican Food Security (SEGALMEX), is the primary arm of the ministry which deliver subsidized products through its DICONSA stores. The program is considered of extra importance due to the economic impact of COVID-19 on the income of many communities.
Import & Export
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) announced this week that the agri-food trade balance surplus grew 11.68% in the first quarter of the year Total agro-food exports exceeded US$14 billion, which represents an increase of 5.58 percent compared to 2019.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is expecting 272 head of cattle from Guatemala to enter Mexico this month through the customs point at El Ceibo, Tabasco. The animals are undergoing sanitary inspection by authorities. The government has decided to facilitate the process as part of an effort to stop illegal cattle trade over the border.
The President of the General Workers, Peasants and Popular Union, Luis Gómez Garay, questioned the decision of SADER to import 272 heads of cattle from Guatemala to deter illegal import. Mr. Gómez Garay stated it represents a ‘strong blow’ to over a million Mexican medium to small ranchers who could face unfair competition if the government allows these irregular imports.
During the 9th conference on Food Self-Sufficiency and Technological Innovation, the Minister Victor Villalobos stressed that in order to guarantee the availability of food during the COVID-19 contingency, the health of the rural workers and population must be protected. He referred to sanitary measures which were mandated by the Ministry of Health to be implemented across the value chain. Several government agencies and bodies are also taking part in enforcing these measures.
Brazilian prosecutors have been working for weeks to force meat suppliers to implement better sanitary measures to protect workers from COVID-19. Workers work side by side in meat processing plants and slaughterhouses, allowing for little physical distancing. This, according to labor prosecutor Dibi Schvarcz, makes them ‘a hotbed for COVID-19’. COVID-19 outbreak in meat processing plants in US in March and April caused mass shutdowns and interruptions in supply chains.
Science & Technology
The National Institute for Forest, Agricultural and Fishery research (INIFAP) announced this week that it is exploring new methods that can determine the quality of Hibiscus calyces based on their physical and chemical aspects. The hibiscus flower is used widely in cold drinks and teas.
Yu Xubo, the president of China’s top state grains trader COFCO, has left the company to take up a new position as head of the China General Technology Group, Reuters reports.