US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack rebuffed a concession by Mexico in a simmering trade dispute over a planned ban on genetically modified US corn.
Vilsack is “disappointed” by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s decree that would scale back the planned ban by scrapping a deadline to halt imports of GMO corn for livestock feed, according to a statement Tuesday. The Mexican president known as AMLO is still pressing forward with a prohibition on GMO corn for human consumption.
The Mexican government’s efforts to block imports of US GMO corn have become one of the biggest trade irritants between Mexico and its northern neighbor. Mexico is the US’s second-largest export market and the issue has mobilized President Joe Biden’s administration, as well as elected representatives in key corn-growing states including Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst.
Biden administration officials and US corn growers have asserted that restrictions on genetically modified corn aren’t backed up by scientific evidence and would violate the USMCA trade accord.
Vilsack said in his statement that the administration is “carefully reviewing the details of the new decree” and intends “to ensure our science-based, rules-based commitment remains firm.”
The National Corn Growers Association, a US trade group, blasted the new decree. The Biden administration “has been more than patient with Mexico” and tolerating import restrictions on US corn “makes USMCA a dead letter,” NCGA President Tom Haag said in a statement.
Mexico would eliminate a deadline to ban GMO corn for animals and manufactured products, the economy ministry said in a statement Monday. Instead, the phase-out will depend on supply and establishing working groups with domestic and foreign businesses for an orderly transition.
But Mexico will still prohibit the importation of GMO corn for flour and tortillas, as well as glyphosate, a commonly used pesticide.
The change provides some relief to US farmers, given that most corn exports to Mexico are of the yellow variety that’s primarily used as livestock feed. White corn, used for tortillas and other dishes, is a smaller portion of US exports to Mexico.
The NCGA has pushed for an arbitration panel under the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement to settle the dispute, saying Mexico’s plans violate the deal. Last month, the group signaled there was no room for compromise, saying a ban would “deliver a blow to American farmers and exacerbate current food insecurity in Mexico.”
Source: El Financiero