Mexico's latest GM corn decree avoids need for trade panel

Mexico permits GM yellow corn for livestock feed
calendar icon 31 May 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

The US 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, citing Mexico's agriculture minister on Tuesday.

Mexico and the US have been at loggerheads over GM corn since the government of 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 published a new decree softening its stance. It still bans GM corn for human consumption but permits GM yellow corn for livestock feed, which makes up most of what Mexico imports from the US.

Afterwards, the US still requested technical consultations on GM corn and other biotech products with Mexico under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) deal, arguing Mexico's stance put at risk billions of dollars of trade.

Mexico has said its plans are in compliance with the USMCA.

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

Still, Mexican Agriculture Minister Victor Villalobos said the issue would not escalate.

"The issue of agriculture in bilateral terms, with this new decree, no longer has any topic for discussion," Villalobos said in an interview with Mexican newspaper Milenio.

"That potential threat (from the panel) existed before the second decree came out," he added.

The US Department of Agriculture and the office of the US Trade Representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mexico is the largest buyer of US corn, purchasing nearly $5 billion worth annually, mostly GM yellow corn. Mexico produces domestically most of its white corn, mainly for human consumption in foods like tortilla.

Supporters of Mexico's policy say GM corn can contaminate Mexico's age-old native varieties and have questioned its impact on human health.

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.