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US lawmakers call for action over Mexico’s GM corn ban

Reuters | 9 December 2022

US lawmakers call for action over Mexico’s GM corn ban

By Cassandra Garrison

MEXICO CITY, Dec 9 (Reuters) - A group of bipartisan U.S. lawmakers called on Trade Representative on Friday to start consultations under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) over Mexico’s ban on genetically modified (GM) corn and the herbicide glyphosate.

The letter signed by 24 members of Congress and led by Republican Representative Adrian Smith and Democratic Representative Daniel Kildee of the Ways and Means Committee, both of whom represent corn-producing states. They requested dispute settlement consultations with Mexico over policies they said are “not based on science.”

Mexico’s presidential decree bans GM corn and glyphosate in 2024, though government officials have recently said they are working on a proposal to overhaul the plan, including an extension on the timeline.

“We urge USTR to promptly request dispute settlement consultations with Mexico on these issues,” the U.S. lawmakers said. “Ignoring Mexico’s disregard for its USMCA commitments sends a signal to our other trading partners that they may take similar actions without repercussions.”

The lawmakers said Mexico’s government has not lived up to its “biotech-related commitments in the USMCA” and that the USTR must enforce the agriculture provisions of the trade pact.

A spokesperson for Mexico’s economy ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

A spokesperson for the USTR did not immediately have a comment.

Mexico imports about 17 million tonnes of corn from the United States, of which about 18% to 20% is white corn, used in food products like tortillas. President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador has said the ban focuses on corn for human consumption and that GM yellow corn for animal feed would still be allowed for another two years.

Lopez Obrador has said the effects of GM corn on human health are unknown. “It is not just a question of commerce, no, (but) taking care of the health of our people,” he said at a regular news conference in October.

Mexican officials, however, have not clarified whether they will reduce imports of yellow corn.

Supporters of the ban say GM seeds can contaminate Mexico’s age-old native varieties, and legal battles alleging glyphosate-based herbicides cause cancer have been fought in U.S. courts for years.

The decree’s critics insist it will threaten food security and lead to major disruptions for U.S. farmers.

The letter from U.S. lawmakers is the latest pressure from Mexico’s main trading partner as the clock ticks on its 2024 ban.

Tom Haag, president of the National Corn Growers Association, which represents U.S. farmers said the group had been working closely with Congress on the issue.

 Fuente: Reuters