Mexico might review, and potentially remove, its ban on imports of genetically modified white corn following its presidential election on June 2, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Sunday. “That would be my hope,” said Vilsack. The new president, likely to be a woman for the first time, would take office on Oct. 1.
The United States has accused Mexico of violating North American trade rules with its ban on GM corn used in making tortillas and other foods. Mexico, the birthplace of corn and the No. 2 customer for U.S. food and ag exports, says it is defending its heritage and its hundreds of corn varieties. A USMCA dispute panel is examining the U.S. challenge of the ban. A decision was not expected for months.
Claudia Sheinbaum, a former Mexico City mayor, is the leader in public opinion polls and a member of the Morena coalition of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, according to Americas Society/Council of the Americas. By law, Lopez Obrador cannot seek re-election to a second term. Sheinbaum has a 2-to-1 lead over Xochitl Galvez, of the opposition alliance Frente Amplio por Mexico. A third party, Citizens’ Movement, was expected to name a candidate in January.
During a teleconference, Vilsack said he met his Mexican counterpart on the sidelines of the UN climate summit to urge Mexico to “follow the science” on genetic engineering of corn. The United States was a pioneer in genetic engineering and is a fierce defender of the safety of GE crops. Vilsack pointed to the upcoming Mexican election when asked the state of play on the trade dispute. He also said the agriculture ministers of Canada, Mexico, and the United States might meet in 2024.