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US pushes Mexico to approve GM crops and potato market access

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The United States lobbied Mexico on Wednesday to allow genetically modified crops in the country and to open up access to potatoes grown in the United States.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai lobbied for concessions during a meeting in Mexico City with Mexican Agriculture Minister Víctor Villalobos and Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier.

“Ambassador Tai stressed the importance for Mexico to immediately resume authorization of biotech products and inquired about the status of expanding access to American fresh potatoes throughout Mexico.” the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in a statement.

The Mexican government issued a decree on the last day of 2020 stating that the import of genetically modified corn would be banned by January 2024.

The new North American free trade agreement, called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), has a chapter on biotechnology that aims to support scientific cooperation on which corn, cotton and soybean producers largely depend. , but Mexico has not approved a new agricultural feature since May 2018, the agricultural news site reported Agri-Pulse.

“Mexico has not issued a new biotech approval for over three years and, if this continues, farmers will not have access to these tools,” said Matt O’Mara, vice president of international affairs at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a Washington DC-based business organization that represents the biotechnology industry.

“BIO is looking forward to working with the [U.S.] administration to support efforts that resolve this issue in a timely manner, including enforcement of the USMCA if necessary.

Chuck Grassley, a senator from the Republican Party from Iowa, told reporters on Wednesday that “we are going to fight to get our GMOs. [genetically modified organisms] in Mexico.

For his part, the CEO of the National Potato Council, Kam Quarles, said Agri-Pulse how happy Tai is pressuring Mexican authorities to allow more American potatoes into Mexico.

Mexico had granted full access to U.S. potatoes, but Mexican farmers were able to prevent unhindered entry through legal action. However, the Supreme Court issued a ruling at the end of April authorizing the federal government to lift import barriers. But the government has yet to allow the flow of US spuds across the border to increase.

“American potato growers appreciate the continued vigilance of Ambassador Tai and Secretary [of Agriculture Tom] Vilsack to ensure this 20-year-plus potato market access conflict finally crosses the finish line, ”said Quarles.

The Mexican-US potato dispute dates back more than two decades.

“Over the past two decades, we have heard many promises from Mexico to honor its end of trade agreements to back down under domestic political pressure and continue to deny fresh American potatoes full access to their country. . We continue to urge the Ambassador and the Secretary to maintain a “trust but check” position with Mexico to ensure that their market is not only temporarily open, but rather remains open for apples. high quality fresh American earth. “

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative also said Tai, Villalobos and Clouthier discussed the potential mutual benefits of aligning Mexico and the United States’ policy on ethanol blends of gasoline.

In addition, they discussed the implementation of the USMCA’s environmental chapter – “including concerns related to the conservation and protection of the vaquita. [marina porpoise], illegal fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and bycatch of marine turtles.

“They agreed to work together to fully implement and uphold the USMCA’s high-quality environmental commitments,” the statement added.

Tai will host a roundtable with Mexican workers and union leaders in Mexico City on Thursday morning in which she “highlight the worker-centered trade policy of the Biden-Harris administration and the US commitment to fully implement the US-Mexico-Canada labor agreement commitments, ”his office said .

The Mexican Congress adopted a landmark labor reform program in 2019, seen as crucial for the ratification of the USMCA, which came into effect on July 1, 2020.

But two companies operating in Mexico – General Motors and auto parts maker Tridonex – have been accused of violating workers’ rights set out in the USMCA and the US government recently asked Mexico to review the labor situation in the company’s factories in Silao, Guanajuato, and Matamoros, Tamaulipas, respectively.

With Agri-Pulse reports


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