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U.S. threatens legal action over Mexico’s GMO corn ban


The United States has threatened legal action over Mexico’s ban on genetically modified corn. The plan, which intends to halt the import of any genetically modified corn into the country by 2024, will cut Mexico’s imports from the U.S. by about 50 percent. 

On Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released the following statement after he met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on the U.S.- Mexico bilateral trade relationship and its importance for U.S. farmers, ranchers, and producers:

“We appreciate the President welcoming us to Mexico and engaging in a productive dialogue. The meetings provided a venue to raise the United States Government’s and our producers’ deep concerns around President López Obrador’s 2020 decree to phase out the use and importation of biotech corn and other biotechnology products by January 2024. The President’s phase-out decree has the potential to substantially disrupt trade, harm farmers on both sides of the border, and significantly increase costs for Mexican consumers.”

While proponents of the plan say that the genetically modified seeds could contaminate the genetics of Mexico’s ancient corn varieties, the plan has heavy implications for economic loss and bilateral trade.

“We must find a way forward soon, and I emphasized in no uncertain terms that — absent an acceptable resolution of the issue — the U.S. Government would be forced to consider all options, including taking formal steps to enforce our legal rights under the USMCA,” said Vilsack. 

According to the USDA, the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship hit a record value of more than $63 billion in two-way trade in 2021 and is anticipated to be higher in 2022. Vilsack also notes in his statement that phasing out genetically modified products will significantly reduce farmers’ ability to combat climate change

“The United States Department of Agriculture and the wider U.S. Government have consistently and proactively pursued cooperation and consultation with Mexico to resolve this issue, and time is now running short. Some progress was made today. For example, President López Obrador reaffirmed the importance of yellow corn imports for Mexico’s food security. He also discussed a potential process in which we can exchange information and engage in dialogue, assuring the safety of biotechnology products. We expect to have a proposal from the President’s team soon, and we will evaluate it closely. While we do not have a solution, we will continue to engage with Mexico on this important issue.”

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