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Mexico won't modify biotech corn decree ahead of USMCA panel

The U.S. has initiated a dispute settlement panel under the USMCA in response to certain Mexican measures pertaining to biotech corn.

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Mexico won't make any further changes to a decree on genetically modified (GM) corn ahead of a dispute settlement panel requested by the U.S. through the USMCA trade pact, Mexican economy minister Raquel Buenrostro told Reuters exclusively on August 21.

On August 17, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai initiated a dispute settlement panel under the USMCA in response to certain Mexican measures pertaining to biotech corn. The U.S. has raised concerns over Mexico's regulatory actions that impact the use of biotech corn in various products. The dispute centers around Mexico's decision to ban the use of biotech corn in tortillas and dough, and the instruction for Mexican government agencies to phase out the use of biotech corn in all human and animal consumption products.

The USMCA panel was announced after the failure of formal consultations to resolve differences between the two trading partners over GM corn.

In February, Mexico discarded a deadline to ban 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, specifically in the use of making flour tortillas.

The U.S. says Mexico's decree banning imports of GM corn used for tortillas is not based on science and violates its commitments under the USMCA, which has been in place since 2020. Mexico has invited the U.S. to work together on scientific research on the health impact of GM corn, but the U.S. has refused, according to Mexican officials.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved GM corn, and Washington doesn't see any need for more extensive research that might take years, Buenrostro said.

"(That) makes no sense because if a government cares about people's health, then they would have no problem doing further research on the health implications," she told Reuters.

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