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August 17, 2023
Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced Thursday that the U.S. is establishing a dispute resolution panel under the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement, challenging Mexico’s ban on genetically modified corn for human consumption. She says American officials seek to resolve their concerns and help ensure consumers have access to safe, affordable food and agricultural products.
“It is critical that Mexico eliminate its USMCA-inconsistent biotechnology measures so that American farmers can continue to access the Mexican market and use innovative tools to respond to climate and food security challenges,” Tai says. “Our bilateral relationship with Mexico, one of our oldest and strongest trading partners, is rooted in trust and honesty, and there are many areas where we will continue to cooperate and work together.”
This latest move comes after nearly a year of talks between American and Mexican officials regarding Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopes Obrador’s executive order to ban imports of genetically modified corn.
On Jan. 30, American officials sent Mexico a formal written request to explain the science behind their decision. The Mexican response we deemed insufficient by the United States.
In March, the two nations held technical consultations that were ultimately unsuccessful. That led the U.S. to call for formal dispute resolution settlement consultations in June. Per USMCA bylaws, the two sides had 75 days to reach a deal. With no agreement in sight, American officials decided it was time to take the next step.
Tai’s announcement was cheered by corn and agriculture industry advocates who have been urging U.S. officials to act since Lopez Obrador first announced his intentions. American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall says Mexico’s GMO corn ban is a clear violation of USMCA that ignores science and denies Mexican families safe and affordable food. He thanked Tai for her continued commitment to ensuring Mexico lives up to its USMCA obligations.
U.S. Grains Council president and CEO Ryan LeGrand says Mexico’s actions were not based on science, and ultimately designed to ban U.S. corn exports.
“We have had a long and productive relationship with Mexico,” LeGrand says. “It is our number one market for U.S. corn, and we support this action because it will likely be the most expedient way to ensure that positive relationship continues.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack echoed those sentiments, adding Mexico’s approach to biotechnology runs counter to decades worth of evidence demonstrating the safety of genetically modified corn. He believes that innovation in agriculture biotechnology plays a key role in advancing solutions to global challenges like food insecurity, climate change and inflation.
“By requesting the establishment of a dispute settlement panel with Mexico, the United States is continuing to exercise its rights under the USMCA to ensure that U.S. producers and exporters have full and fair access to the Mexican market,” Vilsack says. “We will continue to support fair, open, science- and rules-based trade, which serves as the foundation of the USMCA as it was agreed to by all parties.”
Policy editor, Farm Progress
Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.
Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.
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