Trade consultations requested by the United States on Mexico’s plan to limit the use of genetically modified corn are an “unacceptable violation” of Mexican law and feed the interests of seed “oligopolies,” a top Mexican official said on Thursday.
The United States, Mexico’s main trading partner, requested the consultations in early March under the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement, which calls for a science-based approach to domestic regulations.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has said Mexico’s policy is not based on science, while the Mexican government claims it is consistent with USMCA regulation.
“The United States’ request to Mexico follows the interests of seed, agrochemical, and other food-producing oligopolies,” said Mexican Deputy Agriculture Minister Victor Suarez.
Suarez said that seed makers Bayer AG, Corteva Inc, ChemChina’s Syngenta, and BASF are “winning” under the U.S.’ trade and agricultural policies, but that they do not represent all U.S. growers.
Washington requested consultations after Mexico softened an original plan to ban GMO corn across the board and instead opened its use for animal feed and industrial use.
However, Mexico retained plans to prohibit GMO corn’s use for human consumption, which applies to flour, dough, or tortilla made from the grain.
The consultations are a first step toward a trade panel under the treaty, which could ultimately rule in favor of slapping Mexico with punitive tariffs.
The Mexican policy “does not affect U.S. corn producers in any way,” Suarez said, contradictory to the U.S. claims.
“It is the U.S.’ own agricultural and trade policies, as well as its food development model, which distorts prices and creates gaps between small-scale producers and large transnationals,” Suarez added.
Suarez told Reuters in October that Mexico was exploring agreements with farmers in the U.S., Argentina, and Brazil to import non-GMO yellow corn.
Mexico may have found some allies in the endeavor.
Some U.S. corn growers told Reuters they were open to Mexico’s restrictions, arguing in favor of a free market in which they could sell the non-GMO corn at a premium.
Source: El Financiero