© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Sacks of different varieties of corn grain are displayed at a market in Mexico City, Mexico, May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo
(Reuters) – Canada said on Friday it will participate as a third party in the dispute settlement proceedings between the U.S. and Mexico regarding genetically modified (GM) corn in imported tortillas and dough, citing concerns about Mexico’s stance on the matter.
The decision follows Washington’s request for a dispute settlement panel through the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which escalated its objections to the restrictions imposed by Mexico on imports of GM corn.
Mexico in mid-February modified an end-2020 ban on GM corn, allowing its use in animal feed and industrial food, but maintained a ban on GM corn for human consumption, specifically in the use of making flour for tortillas, which is a staple of the Mexican diet.
Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay said in a statement that the country “shares the concerns” of the U.S. that Mexico is not compliant “with the science and risk analysis obligations” under USMCA’s sanitary and phytosanitary measures chapter.
“Canada believes that these measures are not scientifically supported and have the potential to unnecessarily disrupt trade in the North American market,” the statement said.
Earlier this week, Mexican economy minister Raquel Buenrostro told Reuters her country would not modify the decree on GM corn ahead of the USMCA panel as Mexico’s policy is based on science.
Tortillas in Mexico are made with non-GM white corn, in which it is self-sufficient, but the country imports corn worth around $5 billion annually from the United States, most of it yellow GM grain for livestock feed.
The USMCA panel was announced after the failure of formal consultations to resolve deep differences between the two trading partners over GM corn.