U.S. threatens legal steps over Mexico's planned GMO corn ban

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks after attending a march with supporters to mark his fourth year in office, in Mexico City, Mexico November 27, 2022. REUTERS/Toya Sarno Jordan/Files

MEXICO CITY, Nov 28 (Reuters) - The United States on Monday threatened legal action against Mexico's plan to ban imports of genetically modified corn in 2024, saying it would cause huge economic losses and significantly impact bilateral trade.

The countries are already in dispute resolution talks over Mexican energy policies, which the United States argues violates the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade pact.

Citing the "deep concerns" of U.S. farmers over Mexico's impending ban on genetically modified corn, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a statement following a meeting with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador: ""We must find a way forward soon."

"I emphasized in no uncertain terms that - absent acceptable resolution of the issue - the U.S. Government would be forced to consider all options, including taking formal steps to enforce our legal rights under the USMCA," he added.

The planned ban would halve Mexico's imports of yellow corn from the United States, a Mexican agriculture official told Reuters in October.

Supporters of the plan say genetically modified seeds could contaminate Mexico's age-old native varieties.

Vilsack said Lopez Obrador had reaffirmed the importance of yellow corn imports for Mexico's food security, and that he was expecting to soon receive a proposal from the president on a potential dialogue over the issue.

"Mexico's import ban would cause both massive economic losses for Mexico’s agricultural industries and citizens, as well as place an unjustified burden on U.S. farmers," Vilsack said, warning that the move would "have significant impact on the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship."

Total U.S.-Mexican trade amounted to over $587 billion in the first nine months of this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Reporting by Kylie Madry and Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Brendan O'Boyle, Sarah Morland and Simon Cameron-Moore

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