Vilsack tells Senate gene-edited corn exports to Mexico will continue

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a hearing on Thursday promised the Senate Agriculture Committee that his office is working to ensure Mexico continues to accept gene-edited corn from the United States.

His remarks came in response to Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), a member of the committee, who asked Vilsack about Mexico’s consideration of a ban on gene-edited corn.

“I have concern of Mexico’s policy on ag biotechnology, which is set to ban biotech corn for human consumption as soon as January 2024,” Fischer said. “Mexico is the top export destination for Nebraska’s corn. We’re a top producer of white corn used in corn chips, tortillas and other food products.”

Fischer added that Mexico’s agricultural biotechnology policy is inconsistent with its promises under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). She said the policy would limit grower access to modern agricultural technologies, and will raise costs for consumers on both sides of the border.

“I recently had a conversation directly with the president of Mexico about this issue of corn, and I am confident that exports of corn that your farmers and farmers across the country are relying on are going to continue,” replied Vilsack, who was speaking before the Senate Agriculture Committee for the first time since President Biden reappointed him as USDA Secretary. “We’ll continue to work with our trading partner. The fact is we finally got potatoes across the border after 15 years and I think we’re going to continue to focus on developing a strong, confident relationship with the Mexicans, and I am confident that that’s going to result in us continuing to have very strong exports with Mexico.”

Opportunity to export to Europe

Meanwhile, there are signs of new opportunity for exports of biotech in Europe, as Good Day Bio reported recently: “The EU gave 12 permits and six renewals for genetically-engineered crops in 2021, compared to one approval in 2020,” reports Politico, citing the U.S. Trade Representative’s 2022 National Trade Estimate on Foreign Trade Barriers.

As a result of the Ukraine conflict, EU farmers are “prepared to acquire more genetically modified animal feed from the United States and South America,” according to Bloomberg.

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