The USA has taken the next step in trying to resolve a dispute with Mexico over its presidential decree to limit the use of genetically modified (GM) corn, World Grain reported.

Under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the USA had requested settlement consultations on 2 June with Mexico on its agricultural technology policy, the 6 June report said.

The request followed technical consultations with Mexico earlier this year which, according to US trade representative Katherine Tai, had not resolved the issue.

“This is the next step in the process before going to a full dispute panel where arbiters from each side would decide the ultimate outcome,” Ryan LeGrand, president and CEO of the US Grains Council (USGC), told World Grain.

“Ambassador Tai was hopeful in her statement that we can resolve this in this round of dispute consultation and not have to go to the panel, and that’s what we’re [also] hopeful for.”

The timeline for the dispute settlement consultation was 75 days, World Grain wrote.

“Mexico signed on the dotted line with USMCA … when they agreed to undertake science and risk-based policies in their decision-making surrounding biotechnology,” LeGrand added. “That’s the failure that happened with this decree.”

Mexico said it would counter US arguments, Reuters reported on 3 June, saying it was also committed to “constructive dialogue” and believed the countries could “reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.”

The USA and Mexico had had held numerous discussions about the latter’s biotechnology policies, which the USA claimed were not based on science and threatened to disrupt US exports to Mexico, Reuters wrote.

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.

In February, another decree relaxed some of the restrictions, but maintained the ban on GM corn for certain uses, specifically human consumption, the report said. These included tortillas and dough, made mainly from white corn.

Mexico said it had proposed the ban as GM corn could have adverse health effects, even when used as animal fodder.

Mexico imports about 17M tonnes of corn from the USA, mainly yellow corn for use in feed production, while white corn totals around 5% of that volume, according to the report.

According to a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, Mexico’s overall corn imports in 2022-23 dropped 3.8% year-on-year to 17.4M tonnes due to export tariffs on white corn and the GM decree.