Can the Biden Administration challenge Mexico’s decision to ban glyphosate weedkiller and GMO corn?

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Credit: Western Producer
Credit: Western Producer

Mexico may be one of the U.S.’s top agricultural trading partners, but this relationship has plenty of problems. Consider the decree that Mexico’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, issued on December 30, 2020, banning genetically engineered corn and glyphosate, a popular herbicide. It further undermines agricultural trade between the two nations.

This action occurred despite the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) going into force on July 1, 2020 (not that it wouldn’t have been a problem before). The new agreement was supposed to modernize its predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement. For example, the USMCA has a section focused on agricultural biotechnology, in which the countries “confirm the importance of encouraging agricultural innovation and facilitating trade in products of agricultural biotechnology.”

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This ban is extremely problematic for American farmers because Mexico is the top export market for U.S. corn, over 90 percent of which is genetically engineered.

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So, what should be done?

The Biden administration should be proactive in addressing the bans. Before the entry into force of the USMCA and the recent bans, former USTR Robert Lighthizer wrote to Mexico’s Secretary of Economy urging the resolution of biotech and glyphosate issues that had already previously existed.

The Biden administration should build upon these initial efforts, especially in light of Mexico’s bans.

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