September 29, 2022
US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in talks with Mexico on looming GM corn ban
US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he remains in talks with Mexican officials about Mexico's looming genetically modified (GM) corn ban to get clarity on the issue, Reuters reported.
By virtue of a decree signed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico in late 2020, GM corn and the herbicide glyphosate would be phased out by 2024.
If necessary, Vilsack said, the USMCA trade agreement could be used to challenge Mexican policies. The biggest purchaser of American corn is Mexico.
On a meeting with state agriculture officials in the US, Vilsack said he recognises the importance of 2023 in terms of getting clarity about exactly where the US is.
As 2024 approaches, he said they do need to press the issue, and will do so this year and take whatever steps are necessary and appropriate to raise this issue a notch or two.
Government representatives in Mexico, such as Agriculture Minister Victor Villalobos, have indicated that the GM ban will not prevent the importation of yellow corn for use as livestock feed. A US agriculture official familiar with recent meetings with Mexican officials said that US farmers are nevertheless still cautious because no official document makes that claim.
In a meeting, Vilsack claimed he informed Lopez Obrador that a halt in American corn shipments to Mexico for use as livestock feed would harm Mexican consumers, especially the country's poor. He didn't specify the date or time of the meeting.
Vilsack said he taught him the value of comprehending the function of production, the function of biotechnology, and the connection to his livestock industry. A mixed message from Mexico regarding biotechnology, he continued, could stifle innovation in the field.
18% to 20% of Mexico's total US corn imports are corn for human consumption, including white corn used in foods like tortillas. Whether such GM imports will be stopped by 2024 is still up for debate.