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The case of genetically modified corn in the USMCA

Canada is involved in this dispute as a third party

In the case between Mexico and the United States on measures relating to genetically modified corn under the USMCA, Canada is involved as a third party.

It is also known as transgenic corn. 

Third countries have the right to attend any hearing, to make written and oral submissions to the panel and to receive written submissions from the disputing Parties.

To take as a starting point: on January 30, 2023, the United States sent a formal written request to Mexico under the USMCA Chapter on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (Article 9.6.14) for «an explanation of the reasons for» and «relevant information regarding» certain Mexican measures relating to biotech products. 

Then, in June 2023, the United States requested and held dispute settlement consultations with Mexico with respect to its biotech measures under the Dispute Settlement Chapter of the USMCA, but these consultations also failed to resolve the matter. 

Accordingly, on August 17, 2023, the United States established a dispute settlement panel to challenge measures reflected in Mexico’s Decree establishing various actions with respect to glyphosate and genetically modified corn («2023 Corn Decree»), issued on February 13, 2023. 

Genetically Modified Corn

Specifically, the United States challenged Mexico’s ban on the use of GM corn in tortillas or dough, and the instruction given to Mexican government agencies to gradually replace (i.e., reduce and ultimately ban) the use of GM corn in all products for human consumption and animal feed. 

The United States considers Mexico’s measures to be inconsistent with several of Mexico’s obligations in the USMCA under the SPS and Market Access chapters. 

Dispute

The Panel was constituted on October 18, 2023 and is composed of the following members: Christian Häberli (Chair), Hugo Perezcano Diaz and Jean Kalicki. 

As of December 2023, the panel proceeding was ongoing. 

What is genetically modified maize? These are maize varieties whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques to improve certain characteristics, such as pest resistance, nutritional content, herbicide tolerance, drought resistance and yield.

 

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