USTR requests official talks with Mexico over biotech ban

The US Trade Representative’s office has announced the next steps to address Mexico’s import ban of biotech corn.

The US Trade Representative’s office on Monday said it’s asking for technical consultations under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA.)  Technical consultations for biotechnology issues are required before any dispute settlement can be pursued, and this is the first request under the USMCA’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures chapter.

Angus Kelly with the National Corn Growers Association tells Brownfield Monday’s announcement is a promising first step even though a settlement could take at least 180 days. “We’ve got to follow this through to its logical conclusion.  Both sides are dug in, and don’t really see an agreement happening – I’d love to be wrong – but don’t see an agreement happening without a formal dispute.”

USTR Ambassador Katherine Tai says the US has repeatedly conveyed concerns with Mexico’s biotechnology policies, adapting a science-based approach and USMCA compliance.  The Ambassador says she’s optimistic that through the process an outcome can be reached that respects both country’s sovereignty and benefits the U.S., Mexico, and the ag producers and stakeholders of each country.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says a transparent and robust trading relationship founded in science is vital for food security, fighting inflation and addressing climate change.

National Corn Growers Association President Tom Haag says Mexico’s position on biotech corn has created uncertainty and asks the US to move swiftly to eliminate the trade barrier.

John Boozman, ranking member of the Senate Ag Committee, says the US has an obligation to ensure American producers are given fair access to markets.

Senate Ag Committee member Deb Fischer, a Republican from Nebraska, says Mexico’s ban is a flagrant violation of USMCA and sets a precedent for enforcement of other trade agreements.

The dispute over biotech corn 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 that banned biotech corn for food usage and left the door open for a future ban on biotech corn for feed, effective immediately. 

  • This is like going into a restaurant, ordering steak, the waiter brings liver, but you don’t want liver. The cook comes out and demands that not only will you eat the liver, but you will pay for it too.

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