Mexico relaxes corn decree, but Americans not impressed
|Mexico on Monday scrapped a deadline to ban genetically modified corn for animal feed and industrial use amid trade tensions with the United States, but retained plans to prohibit use of the grain for human consumption as well as the herbicide glyphosate, Reuters and Mexico Daily News reported.|
Corn interests were not impressed with statements from the Mexican Agriculture Ministry, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was cautious in a statement.
The Biotechnology Innovation Organization said, “Mexico’s new decree still creates more questions than answers.
“The decree still wrongly calls into question the safety of products of agricultural biotechnology for human consumption by creating a non-science-based distinction of corn used for food and corn used for feed and industrial uses.“
The decree also does not provide any commitment that Mexico’s regulators will return to a science- and risk-based regulatory approval process for all agricultural biotechnology products in the future.
“BIO appreciates the U.S. government’s ongoing efforts to hold Mexico to its USMCA commitments and its recent request that Mexico provide the justification behind its past decree on biotech corn and the rejections of new biotech seed traits. While BIO has supported dialogue to resolve this issue, it has become necessary for USTR [the U.S. trade representative] to request consultations with Mexico over its treatment of agricultural biotechnology in order to provide a framework and timeline to resolve this issue.”
National Corn Growers Association President Tom Haag said, “The Biden administration has been more than patient with Mexico as U.S. officials have sought to enforce a rules-based trading system and stand up for American farmers. The integrity of USMCA, signed by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador himself, is at stake. Singling out corn — our No. 1 ag export to Mexico — and hastening an import ban on numerous food-grade uses makes USMCA a dead letter unless it’s enforced.“
President López Obrador initiated a decree in late 2020 that would ban imports of biotech corn effective Jan. 31, 2024. The Biden administration and Congress have worked closely with Mexican officials over the last several months to head off the ban, which would be catastrophic for American corn growers as well as the Mexican people, who depend on corn as a major staple of their food supply.
“Those talks culminated in a letter from a Biden administration official late last week calling for Mexico to provide further explanation and justification for the original decree,” Haag continued. “While the Mexican government had appeared to be seeking a more pragmatic position to promote food security in recent weeks, the latest decree sends a message that Mexico is doubling down on its original position.
“Biotechnology has revolutionized farming, allowing farmers to grow more corn and other crops to feed more people using less land, chemicals and resources. U.S. regulators and leading science and health organizations around the world have determined and long maintained that biotech products currently on the market are safe and beneficial,” he concluded.
Vilsack was “disappointed” by the announcement,” Reuters reported.