CANADA -The Canadian government announced on Aug. 25 its participation as a third party in the dispute settlement proceedings between the United States and Mexico regarding the use of genetically modified corn in tortillas.
According to a statement released on the Canadian government’s website, Lawrence MacAuley, the minister of agriculture and food, and Mary Ng, minister of export promotion, international trade, and economic development, Canada is siding with the United States regarding its stance on the issue.
“Canada shares the concerns of the United States that Mexico is not compliant with the science and risk analysis obligations under CUSMA’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Chapter,” the ministers said.
MacAuley added that Canada believes that the measures taken by Mexico are not scientifically supported and have the potential to unnecessarily disrupt trade in the North American market.
“Canada will continue to ensure stability and resilience for Canadian farmers and the agricultural sector for years to come.”
This dispute has been brewing for a while now as Mexico issued a presidential decree that banned the use of genetically engineered corn in tortillas and dough in 2020 and stated an intent to gradually substitute the use of biotechnology corn in all products for human consumption and animal feed.
Tortillas are mostly made with white corn, most of which is domestic production. The country imports about US$5 billion in corn from the United States each year, mostly yellow GM corn for livestock feed.
On Aug. 17, the United States requested the formation of a dispute panel with the Mexican government under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Chapter of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to address its complaint that Mexico’s ban on genetically modified corn violates the free-trade deal.
This move came after nearly a year of talks between American and Mexican officials regarding Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopes Obrador’s executive order to ban imports of genetically modified corn.
“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,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack remarked.
However, earlier this week, Mexico announced that it will not make any additional changes to its decree on genetically modified (GM) corn ahead of the dispute settlement panel requested by the United States.
According to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and other Mexican officials, Mexico has invited its trading partner to work together on scientific research on the health impact of GM corn, but the U.S. has refused.