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Mexico: Recent biotech corn decree should avoid trade panel

Mexican Agriculture Minister Victor Villalobos said country's plans are in compliance with the USMCA.

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Corn On The Cob
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The U.S. threat of taking Mexico to a dispute settlement panel under a regional trade deal over the country’s plan to limit use of genetically modified (GM) corn is no longer a worry, Reuters reported the Mexico’s agriculture minister said on Tuesday.

Mexico and the U.S. have been at odds since President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador published a decree in late 2020 that appeared to ban all GM corn imports, a multibillion-dollar trade between the two counties.

In February, Mexico discarded a deadline to ban genetically modified (GM) corn for animal feed and industrial use amid trade tensions with the U.S., but retained plans to prohibit use of the grain for human consumption as well as the herbicide glyphosate.

The move, approved in a Mexican government decree, eliminated January 2024 as the date for the country to forbid GM corn for animal feed and industrial use.

Mexico said it still planned to revoke and refrain from granting new authorizations for GM corn for human consumption, which the decree defined as flour, dough or tortilla made from the grain.

Mexico plans to comply with the USMCA

After Mexico's February decree, the U.S. requested a trade dispute panel under the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement as the next step to address Washington's concerns over Mexico's plan to limit imports of genetically modified corn.

Technical consultations are the first step toward a dispute resolution panel under the USMCA, which could ultimately lead to retaliatory tariffs, noted Reuters.

Mexican Agriculture Minister Victor Villalobos said the issue would not escalate in an interview with Mexican newspaper Milenio.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative have not commented.

Corn for food use comprises about 21% of Mexican corn imports from the U.S., according to a representative from the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

Mexico buys about 17 million tonnes of mostly GM yellow corn from the U.S. annually, worth nearly $5 billion, most of which is used for animal feed.

Related reading

U.S. challenges biotech corn ban with Mexico

'All options' considered in biotech corn dispute with Mexico

Vilsack: No compromise with Mexico on biotech corn

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