US and Mexico Clash over Genetically Modified Corn Regulations

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According to new reports, the U.S. government has purportedly threatened to appeal to the international treaty the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) if it cannot reach an agreement with Mexico on the subject of genetically modified corn crops, an issue which Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard announced on Monday, Nov. 28, must be fully discussed between the two parties before January’s Summit of North American Leaders.

“What Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) asked us is that we work with the United States team on this genetically modified crop issue and on other issues, and that we be ready before the summit that is going to take place to present the options and solutions that we’ve come up with,” said Ebrard at the time.

While Mexico announced in 2020 that it would gradually eliminate genetically modified corn and the herbicide glyphosate out of its crop supply before completely banning modified crops by the year 2024, genetically modified crops still reign supreme in U.S. agriculture – and given that the U.S. exports tens of millions of units of yellow corn to Mexico each and every year, Mexico’s impending regulations against these modified crops could majorly impact the neighboring countries’ trade relations.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack met with López Obrador to further discuss the issue at Mexico City’s National Palace on Monday, Nov. 28, expressing his “deep concerns” about the regulations set to be implemented in Mexico come January 2024.

“The decree has the potential to substantially disrupt trade, harm farmers on both sides of the border, and significantly increase costs for Mexican consumers,” said Vilsack in a statement following the meaning. “In the absence of an acceptable resolution of the problem, the U.S. government would be forced to consider all options, including taking formal steps to enforce our legal rights under the USMCA.”

While Vilsack noted that “some progress” was made at his meeting with López Obrador, he went on to say that “time is running out” to salvage the agricultural trade relationship between the two nations, noting that many U.S. farmers and agricultural producers will be negatively impacted by Mexico’s regulation against genetically modified corn.

However, despite supposed signs of progress, AMLO doubled down on his intentions to ban genetically modified crops during his Monday morning press conference, saying “it is already clear, we do not want genetically modified corn for human consumption, we are not going to allow it. Mexico is going to continue producing white corn for human consumption” – though Mexico’s current internal corn production numbers still remain a far cry from being self-sufficient.

Though Mexico and the United States’ bilateral relationship resulted in a record $63 billion in trade in 2021 alone, the genetically modified crops issue – and potential blowbacks under the USMCA if Mexico proceeds with this regulation – could put millions of dollars worth of trade into jeopardy.

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