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U.S. Continues to Challenge Mexico’s Proposed GMO Corn Ban

In a heated exchange, U.S. Trade Representatives refuted Mexico’s stance on genetically modified corn, stating a lack of scientific evidence behind the ban.

U.S. Trade Representatives clashed with Mexican officials this week during oral arguments over Mexico’s controversial ban on genetically modified corn used in certain food products. The ban, issued in early 2023, has been a point of contention, leading the U.S. to file a dispute settlement under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in August of the same year. This move followed persistent advocacy from the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and various state corn groups.

“The science overwhelmingly shows that genetically modified corn is safe for consumers and does not harm native plants,” Minnesota farmer and NCGA president Harold Wolle said in a NCGA news release. “U.S. officials did an excellent job of making their case, and more importantly, they successfully argued that the Mexican government does not have the scientific evidence to support its actions or claims.”

Some Background on Mexico’s Proposed Ban on U.S. Corn

Mexico’s proposed ban on genetically modified (GMO) corn, set to take effect in 2024, aims to phase out imports of GMO corn used primarily for human consumption. The ban has raised significant concerns within the U.S. agricultural sector, given that Mexico is one of the largest importers of American corn. If implemented, the ban could disrupt a major market for U.S. corn farmers and strain the trade relationship between the two countries.

The Mexican government cites health and environmental concerns as the rationale behind the ban. However, U.S. officials and agricultural experts argue that the scientific consensus supports the safety of GMO corn. They contend that Mexico’s decision is not based on credible scientific evidence and could be seen as a protectionist measure.

During the hearings held on Wednesday and Thursday in Mexico City, U.S. officials presented several compelling arguments. According to Wolle, these included pointing out that Mexico had not conducted a proper risk assessment to support its claims, and the documentation provided by Mexico was more than 20 years old and lacked scientific rigor. Additionally, they highlighted that Mexico’s regulatory agencies had previously deemed genetically modified corn safe for use, suggesting that the ban is an attempt to restrict trade and target imports.

A decision from the panel hearing the case is expected later this year.