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Vilsack says upcoming Mexican election may offer best hope.

Joshua Baethge

December 11, 2023

2 Min Read
Corn getting loaded onto semi trailer in the field in fall
Getty Images/Richard Hamilton Smith

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he and his counterparts in Mexico and Canada may meet next year to discuss Mexcio’s ban on genetically modified corn for human consumption. The news came during a call with reporters at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

U.S and Mexican agriculture officials met last week for informal bilateral discussions. The American delegation again stressed the need for Mexico to follow the science regarding corn.

Vilsack notes that current Mexican President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador, who initiated the GMO corn ban, will leave office on Sept. 30. He believes that may offer the best hope of a resolution to the long-running dispute.

Recent polling shows scientist Claudia Sheinbaum currently leading the race. Mexico’s presidential election will take place on June 2.

“My hope and believe is that, as a result of a new administration, they will take a look at the science, take a look at the fact that they are reliant on U.S. for yellow corn, and that the relationship with the U.S. is important,” he said. “Even though the white corn issue is a small percentage of what we do with them, the principle is important.”

In addition to discussions with with Mexico, Vilsack and the American ag delegation had separate meetings with representatives from Chile, France and the U.K.

U.S officials pressed France on deforestation regulations currently being considered. The American side believe those rules could negatively impact trade with the European Union. Since the United States is a low-risk country, American officials stressed the need to distinguish between the appropriate deforestation concerns of other nations and not applying the same barriers on goods coming from the U.S.

During the meeting with Chilean officials, American officials called out Chile’s ban on poultry imports. U.S. officials want Chile to regionalize those restrictions.

“Their ban on poultry that’s impacted by HPAI is the only country we deal with that is current proving a country-wide ban on poultry imports, and we pointed out the necessity of them changing that position,” Vilsack said.

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

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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