Canada and the US are using the Canada-US-Mexico trade agreement (CUSMA) to challenge Mexico’s new ban on genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) corn. Canada does not export any corn to Mexico, but the Government of Canada is participating in a trade dispute to force open the Mexican market. Read our new briefing for background and analysis.
Mexico has the right to ban GM corn, and is justified in doing so. Corn is a staple of the Mexican diet and is central to Mexican culture and agriculture, history and national identity. Corn is sacred to Indigenous peoples and essential to their cultural and spiritual practices. Mexico’s ban seeks to safeguard the integrity of native corn from GM contamination and to protect human health. Mexico’s actions are supported by the science which continues to find indicators of potential harm to humans from eating GM insect-resistant corn, and continues to warn of health impacts from exposure to the herbicide glyphosate which is used in GM corn production.
This trade challenge is consistent with Canada’s policies that support the profit-making of the biotechnology industry at the expense of democracy, transparency, choice in the marketplace and independent science, and despite risks to the environment and ongoing scientific uncertainty about harm to human health.
Canada argues that the Mexican ban is a problem for the biotechnology industry. The Government of Canada makes the argument that Mexico needs to approve all the same GMOs that Canada approves in order to create more ideal economic conditions for product developers to introduce their GMOs (in this case, the largest seed and pesticide companies in the world): “Product developers also tend to refrain from commercializing innovative agricultural tools until they receive approvals in all major markets. Thus, the approach taken by Mexico in its decisions to reject biotechnology product applications may have a significant economic impact on Canadian producers, developers of innovative agricultural technologies, as well as consequences for trade flows into and out of Canada.”