Mexico City — The dispute between Mexico and the United States regarding the former’s prohibition of the import of genetically modified (GM) corn is political and not commercial in nature, the Mexican Economy Ministry stated in a press release on Tuesday.
On February 24, Economy Minister Raquel Buenrostro and the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Ambassador Katherine Tai, held a virtual meeting to discuss the new decree regarding GM corn published by the Mexican government on February 13.
According to Buenrostro, the decree has no commercial impact, since Mexico produces much more corn than it requires for human consumption as dough and tortillas, while the corn imported from the United States, whether white or yellow, is complementary, and is destined for industrial use and as animal feed.
In recent years, the volume of US corn imports has increased, the ministry stated, adding that, for several years, there has been a global debate on the ethics of genetically modified crops, with scientific and legal discussions taking place.
“The dispute with the United States over the decree regulating genetically modified corn lacks trade fundamentals, the true motivation behind it is politicalMexican Economy Ministry communiqué
According to Buenrostro, US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack has acknowledged that the issue is one of principles.
The Mexican government has warned that, if the United States wanted to take the dispute to a panel within the framework of the free trade agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada (USMCA), it would have to demonstrate quantitatively, that is, in figures, that the decree commercially affects its exports.
“This is something that has not happened,” she said.
New decree prohibiting GM corn
Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s decree, published on February 13, established categories of corn according to their use: for human consumption (as dough and tortillas); and as fodder and in industrialized use for human consumption.
Under those specifications, the government will revoke and not grant any further authorization for the use of GM corn for human consumption.
Mexican authorities will take the necessary actions to carry out the gradual substitution of GM corn for animal feed and industrial use for human consumption, the decree states.
Until such substitution is achieved, Mexico’s Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris) will grant authorization for GM corn for use as animal feed or for industrial use, and that it is the responsibility of the end user in Mexico to ensure that it is not destined for human consumption.
During the Buenrostro-Tai summit, the former said that the new decree provides regulatory certainty.
As a result of the decree, Cofepris has authorized eight of the 14 biotechnology products of special interest to the US government, while the remainder require additional steps to be taken by the companies developing them.
“Mexico’s position regarding GM corn is compatible with the commitments signed in the USMCA, highlighting that all sanitary restrictions on trade must be based on scientific evidence, as expressed in the decree”Mexican Economy Ministry communiqué