On Monday, the US and Mexico fought over Mexico’s plan for banning imports of genetically engineered corn by 2024.
Tom Vilsack, US Agriculture Secretary warned Mexico’s president to expect legal action from the US if they fail to find an “acceptable resolution”.
Mexico says genetically modified seed poses a threat for its ancient corn varieties.
However, Mexico’s President said Tuesday that he would try to reach a compromise with the US.
Vilsack earlier warned that a ban would have a “significant impact” upon US-Mexico trade.
Mexico is second in world corn imports after China. Most of the corn it purchases comes from the United States.
A Mexican minister said that Mexico could reduce its US imports by half due to the ban.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador issued a presidential order on 31 December 2020 requesting that genetically modified (GM), corn for human use be phased out by January 2024.
This decree was a huge concern for US corn exporters. As the deadline neared, US efforts to convince President Lopez Obrador to relax or drop the planned ban have intensified.
Monday was Monday’s meeting between President Lopez Obrador and Mr Vilsack in Mexico. He shared his deep concerns with the Mexican farmers.
“We must quickly find a way forward,” Vilsack warned, warning that the US “would have to consider all options including formal steps to enforce the USMCA” – referring to the free trade agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the USA.
Mexico’s president made one of his campaign promises to ban GM corn. He said earlier in the month that Mexico was a “sovereign-free country” and that GM is not what he wants.
Lopez Obrador asserts that scientific investigation has not been done into the impacts of genetically modified crops on Mexico’s indigenous varieties of corn.
Mexico boasts that it was the first country to cultivate corn, thousands of years before humans did so. There are many heirloom varieties.
However, it heavily depends on US imports for yellow corn to feed its cattle and make sauces.
Lopez Obrador reiterated Tuesday that GMO corn for animal food would continue to be allowed, as the ban was only for corn intended for human consumption.