Ranking just behind China, Mexico is the U.S.’s second largest trading partner. In 2021, the U.S. exported a record $25.5 billion in ag products to Mexico. Despite this massive success, U.S. farmers are concerned about the country’s imports of bioengineered products. Chris Creguer, Michigan Corn Growers Association District 3 board member and a farmer from Unionville, says it’s a significant violation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that went into effect July 2020.
“Specifically, the president of Mexico signed a decree in December 2020 that they were no longer going to accept biotech corn—basically GMO corn—and phasing out the use of glyphosate. Since then, they have declined approval on some new trait applications for biotech traits that would be sold into that market.”
Creguer also works as a territory manager for Pioneer Seeds. Because of Mexico not approving biotech products, there are implications that have negative consequences to U.S. farmers.
“You’re not having innovation in the market. Basically we’re using the traits we currently have. Everybody knows that resistance develops over time, and we have all the tools at our disposal. It’s a huge issue within the genetics industry and the larger picture of how do we enforce an agreement we worked hard to negotiate and we thought we had alignment between the three countries.”
According to the USDA, Mexico imported 16 million metric tons of corn in 2021. In some years, they’re the largest purchaser of U.S. corn. Creuger says there’s not enough non-bioengineered corn in the world to fill Mexico’s need, nor is there the transportation logistics to make shipments happen. “There’s a reason we have a trade network set up and they work efficiently. This is going to counter the decades of close trade with neighboring countries.”
Creuger says MCGA and NCGA have been in close contact with USDA and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
“Their response has been, ‘The moment a train load of corn is refused by Mexico, let us know because that’s when we can initiate the appeal process or case against them with the USMCA dispute settlement program.’”
Without a smoking gun, Creuger says the Biden administration doesn’t have much of a case. However, he says with Mexico declining trait approvals, that would qualify as a similar offense. Officials in D.C. are aware and are trying to figure out the best way to approach Mexico with these concerns.