The U.S. is escalating its dispute with Mexico over the country’s ban on genetically modified white corn and its intent to eventually bar all biotech corn from food and animal feed by calling for a dispute panel under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.  

“The United States has used the tools provided by the USMCA in attempting to resolve concerns with Mexico’s biotechnology measures,” U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement Thursday. “Today, the United States is taking the next step in enforcing Mexico’s obligations under the USMCA.” 

Chief U.S. Agricultural Agriculture Trade Negotiator Doug McKalip, speaking in an interview for an upcoming episode of Agri-Pulse Newsmakers, said he expects a decision from the dispute panel by no later than mid-2024.

The U.S. and Mexico began “dispute consultations” earlier this year over Mexico's GM corn ban contained in a presidential decree that the country published on Feb. 13, but those talks failed to produce an agreement.

“Mexico’s approach to biotechnology is not based on science and runs counter to decades’ worth of evidence demonstrating its safety and the rigorous, science-based regulatory review system that ensures it poses no harm to human health and the environment," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Thursday. “By requesting the establishment of a dispute settlement panel with Mexico, the United States is continuing to exercise its rights under the USMCA to ensure that U.S. producers and exporters have full and fair access to the Mexican market.”

Don't miss a beat sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! The latest on what’s happening in Washington, D.C. and around the country in agriculture, just click here.

National Corn Growers Association President Tom Haag says he’s anxious for the dispute panel to begin deliberations and optimistic about the result. NCGA, a spokesman said, has been sounding the alarm over Mexico’s anti-biotech stance since last fall and “calling on the Biden administration to initiate a dispute settlement under USMCA.”

“Mexico’s decree, which runs counter to scientific findings and is in direct violation of USMCA, is negatively impacting American corn growers,” said Haag. “U.S. officials have exhausted every avenue trying to resolve this conflict and are left with no other choice but to turn to a third-party panel in hopes of quickly rectifying this issue. We are deeply appreciative of USTR for standing up for America’s corn growers.”

Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., told Agri-Pulse he’s been pushing the USTR to demand a dispute panel.

Smith, after a recent meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said he knew that Obrador “wasn't going to budge and that he was going to stand in the way of U.S. corn farmers and not abide by what was agreed to in USMCA.”

For more news, go to