Viewpoint: ‘Science-based trade’ — Why the US should dispute Mexico’s glyphosate, GM corn bans at the WTO

Credit: Jim Young/Reuters
Credit: Jim Young/Reuters

Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, issued a decree that has U.S. agriculture worried. The decree bans glyphosate, a herbicide, as well as genetically-modified (GM) corn. Since Mexico is the largest export market for American corn products, U.S. agriculture is weighing whether to ask Washington to file a trade dispute under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The U.S. should file a case, but not at USMCA. Rather, the U.S. should take its case against Mexico to the World Trade Organization (WTO). That’s because this dispute is bigger than just glyphosate, GM corn or market access to Mexico. Washington needs to unblock the appellate body and fight for science-based trade on the WTO’s much bigger stage.

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[T]he U.S. would benefit from filing at the WTO for three reasons. First, Mexico will have to explain the workings of its GM regime and explain the differential treatment of corn versus cotton, soybeans and wheat. Second, glyphosate is up for renewal in the European Union in 2022, and Europe is debating criteria for a hazard approach to this and its broader regime for endocrine disruptors. And third, it would add political heft to the litigation that Mexican agribusinesses are expected to file in domestic courts.

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