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Mexico Aims for Agreement with US on Genetically Modified Corn

FILE - Corn rests on the ground on Hodgen Farm in Roachdale, Ind., Oct. 29, 2019.
FILE - Corn rests on the ground on Hodgen Farm in Roachdale, Ind., Oct. 29, 2019.

Mexico and the United States aim to reach an agreement in January over a pending Mexican ban on imports of genetically modified (GM) corn, the Mexican Foreign Ministry said Friday after officials from the two countries held talks in Washington.

In a statement, the ministry said talks would continue in the meantime as the two sides worked to reach a "mutual understanding" that gives "legal certainty to all parties."

Mexico has a controversial presidential decree that is set to ban GM corn and the herbicide glyphosate in 2024.

U.S. officials have threatened to take action under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, arguing that the decree will harm U.S. farmers.

"The Mexican delegation presented some potential amendments to the decree in an effort to address our concerns," U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a joint statement released Friday afternoon.

"We agreed to review their proposal closely and follow up with questions or concerns in short order," they said.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters the two sides were aiming to reach an agreement by the end of January.

Mexico, which imports about 17 million metric tons of U.S. corn a year, has said that the decree focuses on corn for human consumption and that GM yellow corn for animal feed would be permitted.

Mexican officials, however, have yet to announce formal modifications to the decree.

Mexico's health regulator Cofepris has not authorized new strains of glyphosate-resistant GM corn seeds for import since 2018.

Biotechnology Innovation Organization, an industry group representing biotech companies including Bayer, said Friday it would urge the U.S. government to begin taking enforcement action over Mexico’s treatment of agricultural biotechnology should the country fall short of meeting "the commitments under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement."

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