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More on Canada Joining US in Mexican Trade Dispute

Canada has formally agreed to take part in a trade dispute settlement consultation process, launched by the U.S., involving Mexico’s increasing restrictions on biotechnology product use and imports. The issue relates to President Obrador’s decree, several months ago, to ban the use of genetically modified corn in Mexico. The ban would include all genetically modified corn products for human consumption and for use in animal feed.

Mexico argues that genetically modified corn may have negative health effects, but authorities in that country have not yet presented any proof of those claims. While the main thrust of President Obrador’s decree relates to corn, Mexico is also a major buyer of canola from Canada.

Chris Davison is with the Canadian Canola Council. Davison says that in the past five years the Obrador administration has become increasingly hostile toward biotechnology. While the main thrust of the decree relates to corn, Davison said that restrictive will almost certainly lead to bans on other crops and their products.

Davison says; “Mexico is a leading market for Canadian canola and canola-based products. In fact, it’s Canada’s agri-food export to Mexico. About 2018 we started to see that there were a lack of approvals associated with ag-biotechnology. And, while more recently, the decrees from Mexico have been focused on GM corn, we did see changes in the Mexican regulatory system that went beyond corn.”

Canada is concerned with Mexico’s broadening of a ban on biotechnology involving canola, cotton, and soybeans. So, Global Affairs Canada sent a formal letter last week notifying the U.S. of Canada’s intent to hold third-party status in the dispute settlement consultation, under USMCA rules.

An excerpt in that letter stated that it is essential that Canada’s trading partners support and implement science-based regulatory systems enabling innovations, including products of agricultural biotechnology.

The Canadian Canola Council’s Chris Davison says that his industry hopes that Canada’s participation can help to re-establish regulatory predictability for all three partners within the North American agriculture and agrifood marketplace.

Davison added; “We need to have regulatory systems that support GM technology, authorized in those markets. We need clear, predictable, science and risk-based approaches to regulation. In the absence of that, I think there’s a concern out there that similar issues could arise in the future. The decree’s more explicitly focused on corn, but there were clearly adjacent issues associated with Mexico’s regulatory system.”

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