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Mexico dismisses US plea to reverse GM corn ban

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Maize has occupied a prominent place in the Mexican diet since pre-Hispanic times./AFP
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Nov 30, 2022 - 11:29 AM

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO — Mexico’s president on Tuesday rejected a call by the United States to scrap a planned ban on imports of genetically modified maize, but voiced hope that an agreement could be reached.

Corn has occupied a prominent place since pre-Hispanic times in diets in Mexico, where it is consumed daily by many in tortillas.

Seeking to safeguard its food sovereignty and protect its cherished native maize, Mexico plans to phase out imports of genetically modified maize by 2024.

“We do not accept transgenic corn for human consumption,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said, a day after talks with US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“Between health and commercialism, we opted for health,” Lopez Obrador told reporters.

Vilsack said in a statement that he had voiced “deep concerns” about the move and warned that Washington might submit a complaint under a North American trade deal, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“We must find a way forward soon and I emphasized in no uncertain terms that — absent acceptable resolution of the issue — the US government would be forced to consider all options, including taking formal steps to enforce our legal rights under the USMCA,” he said.

“We made it abundantly clear that Mexico’s import ban would cause both massive economic losses for Mexico’s agricultural industries and citizens, as well as place an unjustified burden on US farmers,” he added.

At the same time, Lopez Obrador and Vilsack highlighted some progress in their talks.

The Mexican president clarified that the ban does not include yellow corn for cattle feed, subject to annual certification by the health regulator.

“We hope to reach an agreement, but if that agreement is not reached… let them go to a tribunal,” Lopez Obrador said.

The major trading partners are already embroiled in a trade spat over Lopez Obrador’s controversial energy policies, which have prompted formal complaints from both Washington and Ottawa.

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