USTR: Mexico’s compromise on GM corn decree still falls short

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Solidago
© GettyImages/Solidago

Related tags USTR Corn genetically modified Mexico Usda

Mexico’s proposed amendments to a planned ban on imports of US corn does not go far enough, warned US officials.

“Mexico’s proposed approach, which is not grounded in science, still threatens to disrupt billions of dollars in bilateral agricultural trade, cause serious economic harm to US farmers and Mexican livestock producers, and stifle important innovations needed to help producers respond to pressing climate and food security challenges,”​ according to a joint statement from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

The statement was released following a meeting between Mexican officials and USDA secretary of trade and foreign agricultural affairs, Alexis Taylor, and the USTR’s chief ag negotiator, Doug McKalip regarding the decree, issued in late 2020, by Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to phase out the use and importation of genetically modified​ ​corn and other products by January 31, 2024.

The US officials met with Roberto Velasco Álvarez, chief officer for North America at Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Department, among others.

We appreciate the active engagement between US and Mexican government officials following US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s trip to Mexico in November, and the proposed modifications to the presidential decree shared by Mexico at the end of 2022. However, these changes are not sufficient.”

Trade agreement rights

The US officials said their trip further underscores the importance of resolving this issue. “We conveyed our continued commitment to strengthening our economic and trade relationship with Mexico.  We made it clear today that if this issue is not resolved, we will consider all options, including taking formal steps to enforce our rights under the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).”

The US National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) applauded the stance of the Biden administration in this respect, saying banning biotech corn would deliver a blow to American farmers and exacerbate current food insecurity in Mexico by drastically raising prices for corn, basic foods and other critical products derived from corn in the Mexican economy.

The USDA and the USTR are making it clear that they are going to make the Mexican government abide by what it agreed to under USMCA, said NCGA president, Tom Haag.

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