LatinNews Daily - 07 March 2023

In brief: US escalates dispute with Mexico over GM ban

*The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has announced that it is requesting “technical consultations” with Mexico’s government under the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) regarding “certain Mexican measures concerning products of agricultural biotechnology”. The announcement comes amid an ongoing dispute between the two countries over a decree introduced by Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2020 that had ordered the phasing out of the use and import of genetically modified (GM) products and the herbicide glyphosate by January 2024, which was subsequently rendered obsolete by a new decree last month which refers to GM corn only. Since then, the Mexican government has agreed to allow imports of GM corn for livestock but maintained the ban on GM corn for human consumption. US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated that while the US appreciated “the sustained, active engagement with our Mexican counterparts at all levels of government” the US remained “firm” in its view that “Mexico’s current biotechnology trajectory is not grounded in science, which is the foundation of USMCA.” Mexico’s economy ministry (SE) released a statement defending its position, claiming that the objective of the decree was to “ensure the tortilla is made with natural maize to conserve the biodiversity of more than 64 strains of corn, many of which are already endangered”.  The SE also stated that the request for consultations was not “contentious”, but rather a step to seek a solution in a cooperative manner.

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