Canada joins the US corn crusade

In the biggest cornfield contest since Field of Dreams, Canada is joining the US in a trade complaint against Mexico over the country’s restrictions on genetically modified corn imports

Catch-up: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (aka, AMLO) had signed a decree to ban genetically modified corn in the country by 2024 on the grounds that it poses risks to human health and biodiversity. The US lodged a complaint claiming the ban breaks the Canada-US-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), which dictates trade between the countries. 

  • Under CUSMA, countries must base regulations on scientific research. The US argues that Mexico’s concerns about GMOs ignore science and break that rule.
  • In February, Mexico lifted restrictions on imported GMO corn for animal feed while scientists study its impact on human health, but upheld restrictions for human foods.  

Why it matters: Canada isn’t really worried about corn exports to Mexico—it barely has any. However, it is worried about potential future bans on the export of other GMO crops… chiefly canola, of which it is the world’s top producer, with Mexico being one of its top buyers. 

  • Last year, Canada exported $1.6 billion worth of canola to Mexico, while consumption of canola oil and meal has risen in Mexico over the past five years.

Zoom out: Anyone who watched Food Inc. in high school health class knows GMOs are contentious, but scientific studies have found little evidence for adverse health effects from eating them. That said, concerns about their impact on biodiversity are well-founded.—QH