U.S. officials said this week that enforcement actions could be taken against Mexico in a dispute over that country’s imports of genetically-engineered corn.

In December 2020 Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador issued a decree that will prohibit imports of GMO corn by Jan. 31, 2024. Mexican officials initially assured the U.S. that the decree would not affect yellow corn, the most common type of corn traded between the two countries, but then reversed that position in November 2022. The U.S. is concerned about the impact of the decree because Mexico is the second-largest market for U.S. corn exports and 90 percent of U.S. corn is genetically modified.

Senior U.S. officials met with their Mexican counterparts this week to address the “grave concerns” the U.S. has about this issue. Mexico did propose some modifications to the decree at the end of 2022, including delaying the ban until 2025 and excluding imports of yellow corn used only for animal feed, which apparently makes up a large percentage of U.S. corn shipments to Mexico.

However, U.S. officials said the proposed changes “are not sufficient,” noting that they are not grounded in science and “still threaten to disrupt billions of dollars in bilateral agricultural trade, cause serious economic harm to U.S. farmers and Mexican livestock producers, and stifle important innovations needed to help producers respond to pressing climate and food security challenges.”

As a result, the officials said, “if this issue is not resolved, we will consider all options, including taking formal steps to enforce our rights under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.” That would initially involve initiating a dispute settlement case but could eventually result in retaliatory measures such as increased tariffs on imports from Mexico.

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