McKalip, USTR nominee: Enforcing USMCA provisions on biotech a top priority

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing yesterday on Doug McKalip’s nomination to the position of Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). BIO, as previously stated, supports his nomination. With Mexico and other countries stonewalling progress by imposing barriers to trade in biotech crops, we need this position filled, says BIO.

“Mexico is unfairly blocking American-grown corn and soybeans,” said Sen. Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) in his opening statement.

Mexico’s non-science-based treatment of agricultural biotechnology is undermining the development of products in the United States, and our farmers suffer as a result,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). “What are you going to do about enforcing US-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA) biotechnology provisions to prevent disruption to North American grain markets and on-farm innovation?”

Gene editing among USMCA opportunities for ag tech

“This will be a key area of priority for me,” said McKalip, noting “biotechnology and agriculture innovations” are helping us manage the supply and climate challenges facing our food. “If we have to use USMCA provisions to enforce on biotechnology, that every tool should be at our disposal.”

Access is key “not just for plants, but for animal-based biotechnology, as well,” McKalip added.

“USMCA opens up all kinds of possibilities for our ag tech, including gene editing,” noted Sen. Todd Young (R-IN). But with approval delays, Mexico lacks “a science-based approach.”

What about Korea—which, according to USTR’s National Trade Estimate, has an “onerous and protracted” approval process for ag biotech?, asked Sen. Young.

“We need to work hard to make sure there aren’t any unscientific barriers,” responded McKalip. “What’s happening with genome editing…essentially mimics what could be done in breeding in a greenhouse, so the risks are commensurate with that.”

BIO reiterates its support for McKalip

McKalip has the backing of nearly 100 organizations (including BIO), who are calling for his swift approval. The position has been vacant since 2020.

“BIO would like to reiterate our support for Mr. McKalip, who is deeply familiar with the food and agriculture industry following three decades of leadership roles in agriculture policy and trade,” said BIO’s Vice President of International Affairs Nancy Travis. “His experience would be especially important in addressing Mexico’s failure to uphold its commitments to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)—specifically their non-science-based barriers for new biotech crops.”

About The Author

Scroll to Top