May 27, 2024

According to undersecretary of agriculture – March 7, 2024 at 12:45 pm Mexico expects the US to prove that GM corn is safe for the public.

Mexico is waiting for the United States to prove that imported genetically modified corn is safe for Mexicans. Deputy Agriculture Minister Victor Suarez made the announcement on Wednesday as the dispute between the two countries plays out within the framework of an international trade agreement.

In a written submission to a panel on the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, Mexico, a major buyer of U.S. corn, argued that science shows that genetically modified corn and the herbicide glyphosate harm human health and native varieties. It is his right to ban genetically modified corn for human consumption.

The filing is dated January 2024, but was made public Tuesday by the nonprofit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

Suarez said it is now up to the United States to prove that genetically modified corn does not harm Mexicans, which consume more corn than many other countries in the form of staple foods such as nixtamal flour and tortillas.

The U.S. is “arguing that the decisions being made in Mexico are not based on science and that their decisions are,” Suarez told Reuters in an interview. “But we have yet to see a scientific study from the United States or companies. We look forward to this study.”

A spokesman for the US Department of Agriculture said Mexico's approach to biotechnology contradicted “decades of evidence on the safety of biotechnology”.

A spokeswoman for the US Trade Representative was not immediately available for comment.

Genetically modified corn is widely used around the world to fatten livestock, although some consumers are generally skeptical about consuming genetically modified products. A trade dispute with Mexico could threaten U.S. corn sales at a time when low demand for the commodity and falling prices are hurting farmers.

Companies like Bayer have invested hundreds of millions of dollars over the past few decades to develop genetically modified crops and protect the safety of genetically modified foods traded globally.

Mexico's written response cites studies showing a link between consumption of genetically modified corn and exposure to glyphosate, liver inflammation in humans and immune effects in animals, and says the risk to human health is classified as “very serious.”

In August, the United States requested a dispute settlement panel under the USMCA against Mexico's order banning genetically modified corn for human consumption, specifically to make flour for tortillas. . The decree allows the use of genetically modified yellow corn in animal feed, which accounts for nearly $5.9 billion in Mexico's annual corn imports.

Washington argues that Mexico's order banning imports of genetically modified corn for tortillas is not based on science and violates its obligations under the USMCA, which is in effect since 2020.

Suarez said of Mexico's order that there is no impact on trade. “Value and volume of GM corn exports to Mexico increased.”

The Mexican order calls for a phase-out of GM corn, a point of contention highlighted by US officials.

In its written response, Mexico argued that no specific deadline was set and therefore the order had no impact on trade.

“As the United States seeks energy sovereignty and energy self-sufficiency, this is a strategic goal,” Suarez said.

The US is expected to respond to Mexico's response. (Reporting by Adriana Barrera and Cassandra Garrison in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Leah Douglas and David Lauder in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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