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USTR Filing Trade Dispute with Mexico Over GMO Corn Decree

(WASHINGTON D.C.) — On Friday, it was announced the the U.S. Trade Representative is filing a trade dispute under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) over Mexico’s impending ban on GMO corn from the U.S.

Under the agreement, once a dispute settlement gets filed, a group of objective experts will hear the case and make a final determination based on the commitments of both parties under the free trade agreement. USTR Katherine Tai says Mexico’s measures are inconsistent with several of its obligations in the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Market Access chapters of the agreement. “The USMCA was written to ensure that all producers in the three countries have full access to each other’s markets,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Below is industry reaction; stay tuned as we continue to follow this breaking news story:

Corn Growers Praise Move by U.S. Trade Representative to Initiate Dispute Settlement with Mexico Over Corn Decree

The U.S. Trade Representative announced today that it is filing a dispute settlement under the U.S.- Mexico-Canada Agreement in response to the steps Mexico has taken to ban biotech corn for human consumption.

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), which along with affiliated state associations, has been leading calls for the Biden administration to act, praised the development.

“Mexico’s actions, which are not based on sound science, have threatened the financial wellbeing of corn growers and our nation’s rural communities,” said NCGA President Tom Haag. “We are deeply appreciative of Ambassador Katherine Tai and USTR for moving this process forward and thankful for the efforts of Secretary Tom Vilsack and members of Congress for standing up for farmers in such a meaningful way.”

Under USMCA, once a dispute settlement is filed, a group of objective experts will be empaneled to hear the case and make final determinations based on the commitments both parties signed as part of the free trade agreement.

The dispute stems from a 2020 decree by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador that sought to ban imports of biotech corn beginning in January 2024. Mexico issued a revised decree in February of this year that banned biotech corn for human consumption effective immediately, and left the door open for a future ban on biotech corn for feed.

Mexico is a top market for corn, the number one agricultural export from the U.S., which has led to strong concerns over how the ban would impact U.S. farmers, rural economies and food security for the people of Mexico.

Given the high stakes, NCGA and corn grower leaders across the country began sounding the alarm last fall and have been calling on the Biden administration to initiate a dispute settlement under USMCA.

Statement by Secretary Vilsack Regarding USMCA Dispute Settlement Consultations Request on Mexico’s Agricultural Biotechnology Measures

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2023 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack issued the following statement regarding today’s announcement by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) that the United States has requested dispute settlement consultations with Mexico under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). These consultations are in regard to Mexico’s agricultural biotechnology policies.

“USDA supports success for all farmers, and that means embracing fair, open, science- and rules-based trade. In this spirit, the USMCA was written to ensure that producers in all three countries have full and fair access to each other’s markets,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We fundamentally disagree with the position Mexico has taken on the issue of biotechnology, which has been proven to be safe for decades. Through this action, we are exercising our rights under USMCA while supporting innovation, nutrition security, sustainability, and the mutual success of our farmers and producers.”

Today’s announcement is the latest action USDA and USTR have taken to address the United States’ concerns with Mexico’s biotechnology policies. In March, USDA and USTR requested technical consultations with Mexico under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Chapter of the USMCA.

U.S. Grains Council Reacts To U.S. Decision For Dispute Settlement Consultations In Response to Mexico’s GMO Corn Decree
“Today, the U.S. Trade Representative requested formal dispute settlement consultations under the USMCA regarding Mexico’s Presidential Decree on genetically modified corn. We are very thankful to Ambassador Tai for taking this important and necessary step with our number one importer of U.S. corn. The decree violates Mexico’s obligations to use science and risk-based policies to regulate biotechnology in a transparent way and threatens the mutually beneficial trading relationship our two countries have had for decades.

 

“The U.S. Grains Council strongly supports the U.S. government’s action today as the decree explicitly bans the export of biotech white corn to Mexico and we appreciate U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack for always insisting that genetically modified crops are science-based, sound and safe.

 

“The result of this decree as written will be to raise corn prices in Mexico, further exacerbating food security issues there, while also trying to block biotechnology as an important tool U.S. farmers can use to sustainably feed the world. We will do all in our power to support the U.S. government’s consultations so free and fair trade of corn between the United States and Mexico continues as was agreed to in USMCA.”

U.S. Grains Council Reacts To U.S. Decision For Dispute Settlement Consultations In Response to Mexico’s GMO Corn Decree
Today, the U.S. Trade Representative requested formal dispute settlement consultations under the USMCA regarding Mexico’s Presidential Decree on genetically modified corn. We are very thankful to Ambassador Tai for taking this important and necessary step with our number one importer of U.S. corn. The decree violates Mexico’s obligations to use science and risk-based policies to regulate biotechnology in a transparent way and threatens the mutually beneficial trading relationship our two countries have had for decades.

 

The U.S. Grains Council strongly supports the U.S. government’s action today as the decree explicitly bans the export of biotech white corn to Mexico and we appreciate U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack for always insisting that genetically modified crops are science-based, sound and safe.

 

The result of this decree as written will be to raise corn prices in Mexico, further exacerbating food security issues there, while also trying to block biotechnology as an important tool U.S. farmers can use to sustainably feed the world. We will do all in our power to support the U.S. government’s consultations so free and fair trade of corn between the United States and Mexico continues as was agreed to in USMCA.

 

The U.S. Grains Council develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and related products including distiller’s dried grains with solubles and ethanol. With full-time presence in 28 locations, the Council operates programs in more than 50 countries and the European Union. The Council believes exports are vital to global economic development and to U.S. agriculture’s profitability.

 

The U.S. Grains Council strongly supports the U.S. government’s action today as the decree explicitly bans the export of biotech white corn to Mexico and we appreciate U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack for always insisting that genetically modified crops are science-based, sound and safe.

 

The result of this decree as written will be to raise corn prices in Mexico, further exacerbating food security issues there, while also trying to block biotechnology as an important tool U.S. farmers can use to sustainably feed the world. We will do all in our power to support the U.S. government’s consultations so free and fair trade of corn between the United States and Mexico continues as was agreed to in USMCA.

 

The U.S. Grains Council develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and related products including distiller’s dried grains with solubles and ethanol. With full-time presence in 28 locations, the Council operates programs in more than 50 countries and the European Union. The Council believes exports are vital to global economic development and to U.S. agriculture’s profitability.

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