Canada joining U.S. challenge of Mexico's biotech rules as third party

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The Canadian government has decided to sign on as a third party in the United States’ request for dispute settlement consultations regarding Mexico’s restrictions on biotechnology in agriculture.

Canada’s trade and agriculture ministers, Mary Ng and Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced the decision on Friday, which was the deadline for joining the U.S. challenge under the rules of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade agreement.

“Canada shares the concerns of the U.S. that Mexico’s measures are not scientifically supported and have the potential to unnecessarily disrupt trade in the North American market,” said Ng and Bibeau, in a joint statement. “Canada will continue to work with Mexico and the U.S. towards an outcome that preserves trade predictability and market access for our farmers and exporters.”

The dispute revolves around Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s February decree banning the use of genetically-modified corn in tortillas and dough, with plans to phase out the use of biotech corn in all products for human consumption and animal feed. The decree included an updated timeline for banning the use of glyphosate herbicide in Mexico. Both Canada and the U.S. are also concerned about Mexico’s rejection of applications for authorizations covering imports and sale of certain biotechnology products over the last few years.

“Canada has a substantial interest in the matters raised by the United States in its consultations request. Like the United States, Canada is concerned with the rejections of certain biotechnology product applications covering GE corn, canola, cotton, and soybean,” says the formal letter from Global Affairs Canada notifying the U.S. of Canada’s intent to seek third party status in the consultations.

The Canola Council of Canada is welcoming the Canadian government’s decision to join the dispute consultations.

“To continue to serve the Mexican market and other key export markets, it is essential that Canada’s trading partners support and implement science-based regulatory systems that enable getting innovations, including products of agricultural biotechnology, authorized and approved and into the hands of Canadian canola growers,” says Jim Everson, CCC president, in a statement released Friday.

Everson says the council hopes Canada’s participation in the dispute settlement consultation initiated by the U.S. will “re-establish regulatory predictability.”

Related coverage from earlier this week:

Canada considering whether to join U.S. in trade dispute over Mexico’s agricultural biotech policies

Canadian canola sector paying close attention to U.S. challenge of Mexico’s biotech restrictions

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