U.S. and Mexican government officials have been meeting over Mexico’s plan to ban on genetically modified corn, but the National Corn Growers Association says time is running out and the Biden administration needs to take action soon.
In a letter to President Joe Biden, NCGA are seeking a deadline for initiating a dispute settlement process under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement if Mexico does not withdraw its presidential decree that would stop all imports of GM corn from the U.S. in January, 2024.
“Corn farmers are right now in the process of making planting decisions for next spring, and any additional uncertainty in the market affects their ability to appropriately respond to multiple market signals,” NCGA said in the letter. “If the decree is not completely withdrawn, we ask that your administration initiate a case under USMCA.”
Biden will join Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a North American summit in January. NCGA wants Biden to make the decree “a critical part” of the Jan. 9 meeting.
The first chance for the U.S. and Mexico to head off the trade rift will be this week. Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, who on Monday signed a “Declaration of Friendship” together with U.S. Special Presidential Advisor for the Americas Christopher Dodd to celebrate 200 years of diplomatic relations, will be in Washington on Friday.
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Any agreement will be difficult. Obrador, during a recent meeting with Vilsack in Mexico City, floated a compromise in which Mexico would only ban food-grade GM corn while allowing in feed corn under stricter scrutiny.
Vilsack said he made no promises at the meeting, and the U.S. corn sector has been adamantly opposed to any such deal.
“A ban on any form of biotech corn would come at a great expense to America’s corn growers,” NCGA said in a statement Wednesday. “Even today, biotech food and feed export applications are being delayed or outright rejected by Mexican regulatory authorities. This non-functioning regulatory system perpetually delays commercialization of newer, more environmentally sustainable biotech crops, denying farmers access to new technology and much-needed productivity gains given the war in Ukraine.”