Mexico would not make any further changes to a decree on genetically modified (GM) corn despite ongoing objections from the USA, Mexican economy minister Raquel Buenrostro told Reuters.

Buenrostro’s comments on 21 August followed a request made by the USA the previous week for a dispute settlement panel through the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the report said.

A decree was issued by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on 1 January 2021 banning the use of GM corn by 2024, World Grain wrote at the time.

In February, Mexico issued another decree relaxing some of the restrictions to allow its use in animal feed and the making of consumer products such as cosmetics, textiles and paper, Reuters wrote.

However, the modified decree maintained a ban on GM corn for human consumption, specifically in the use of making flour for tortillas, which were a staple of the Mexican diet, the report said.

“It's already written ... it’s already in the decree,” Buenrostro said, referring to allowing GM corn in animal feed, a key concern for US and Mexican industrialists.

“That is why care was taken to give the definition of corn for human food.”

Tortillas in Mexico are made with non-transgenic white corn, in which it is self-sufficient, but the country imports corn worth around US$5bn/year from the USA, mostly yellow GM grain for livestock feed, according to the Reuters report.

The USMCA panel was announced after the failure of formal consultations to resolve differences between the two trading partners over GM corn, the report said.

The USA has claimed that Mexico’s decree banning imports of GM corn used for tortillas was not based on science and violated its commitments under the USMCA, which had been in place since 2020.

According to Buenrostro, Mexico’s policy is based on science and the USA’s claims have “no foundation”.

Mexico has invited its trading partner to work together on scientific research on the health impact of GM corn, but the USA has refused, according to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and other Mexican officials.