Canada has asked for formal consultations with Mexico over its restrictions on genetically modified (GM) agricultural imports under the North American free-trade agreement, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Canada requested the talks on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg, a day after the U.S. requested formal trade consultations over its objections to Mexico’s plans to limit imports of GM corn and other agricultural biotechnology products.
“Canada will always work with the U.S. and Mexico to strengthen our trade relationship and grow a clean, green agriculture sector,” a spokesperson for Canada’s Trade Minister Mary Ng said in a statement.
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade (USMCA) “has the ability to hold technical consultations to better understand how our policies are to be implemented under this agreement,” the spokesperson said, without explicitly confirming the report.
Mexico plans to regulate GM corn for human consumption, which U.S. officials say puts some $5 billion of U.S. corn exports to Mexico at risk and could stifle biotechnology innovation.
Canada however is not a major corn exporter and Ottawa is concerned overall about Mexico putting arbitrary prohibitions on agriculture produced using biotechnology, Bloomberg reported.
It is also concerned about Mexico’s lack of respect for the USMCA trade pact, according to the report.
A spokeswoman for Mexico’s economy ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the report.
Mexico says GM seeds can contaminate the country’s age-old native varieties and has questioned their impact on human health. U.S. officials have criticized Mexico’s plans as not being science-based and warn that any restriction of genetically modified corn could morph into an all-out trade dispute under the USMCA.