MANHATTAN, Kan. – After Mexico suddenly moved its ban on GMO corn to take effect immediately, the Kansas Corn Growers Association (KCGA) is calling for a quick response from the United States Trade Representative (USTR). KCGA requests USTR to initiate a dispute resolution under the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). On Monday, Mexican officials issued a new decree calling for an import ban on biotech corn used for certain purposes, effective February 14. The decree indicated that the Mexican government would continue to allow imports of biotech corn used as animal feed while searching for substitutes.
KCGA and the National Corn Growers Association have expressed serious concerns about the accelerated implementation timeline. Mexico has been the top export market for US corn in four of the past five years, and more than 90 percent of the US corn crop is GMO.
“Our corn farmers need the Mexican market and Mexico needs our corn. The USMCA should protect its member countries from unfair trade barriers, and that trade agreement must be respected,” said KCGA President Brent Rogers, Hoxie. “Mexico’s trade barrier banning GMO corn imports is not based on solid scientific basis Regulatory authorities and health organizations around the world have determined the safety and benefits of GMO crops.
NCGA President Tom Haag said Mexico must be held accountable within the USMCA.
“The Biden administration has been more than patient with Mexico as US officials have sought to enforce a rules-based trading system and defend American farmers,” said Tom Haag, president of the National Corn Growers Association. “The integrity of the USMCA, signed by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador himself, is at stake. Locating corn — our number one export to Mexico — and expediting an import ban for numerous food uses makes the USMCA a dead letter unless enforced.
President López Obrador initiated a decree in late 2020 that would ban imports of biotech corn starting January 31, 2024. The Biden administration and Congress have worked closely with Mexican officials in recent months to avert the ban, that would be catastrophic for corn-growing Americans as well as the Mexican people, who depend on corn as the major staple of their food supply.
Those talks culminated in a letter from a Biden administration official late last week asking Mexico to provide further explanations and justifications for the original decree. While the Mexican government seemed to seek a more pragmatic stance to promote food security in recent weeks, the latest decree sends the message that Mexico is doubling down on its original stance.
Biotechnology has revolutionized agriculture, enabling farmers to grow more corn and other crops to feed more people using less land, chemicals and resources. US regulators and leading scientific and health organizations around the world have long established and argued that biotech products currently on the market are safe and beneficial.