The United States has requested dispute settlement consultations regarding Mexico’s agricultural biotechnology policies. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said that the policies “are not based on science” and “stifle agricultural innovation.” The consultations are being requested under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) regarding Mexico’s Presidential Decree on genetically modified (GM) corn.
“The USMCA was written to ensure that producers in all three countries have full and fair access to each other’s markets,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “We fundamentally disagree with the position Mexico has taken on the issue of biotechnology, which has been proven to be safe for decades. Through this action, we are exercising our rights under USMCA while supporting innovation, nutrition security, sustainability, and the mutual success of our farmers and producers.”
Mexico’s position on agricultural biotechnology products has been a point of contention for several months now. U.S. and Mexican officials have held technical consultations on the matter to no avail. The particular issue is in regard to the ban on using biotechnology corn in tortillas or dough, with a gradual ban on all products for human consumption. The move to take action on the issue is being supported by several ag groups including the National Corn Growers Association and the U.S. Grains Council.
“Unfortunately, Mexico’s President Obrador continues to ignore science and the framework of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation President. “The import ban hurts families in Mexico who rely on the safe and affordable food grown by America’s farmers. We encourage Ambassador Tai and Secretary Vilsack to continue pressing forward to ensure Mexico lives up to its obligations under USMCA by allowing fair trade from the United States.”
The call for dispute settlement consultations is just the first step in the process. Mexico and the U.S. will have 75 days to resolve the issue. If an agreement cannot be reached, the U.S. can then request a dispute settlement panel.