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article imageOp-Ed: Mexico being pressured to drop glyphosate ban by Bayer and U.S.

By Karen Graham     Feb 28, 2021 in Business
Internal government emails reveal Monsanto owner Bayer AG and industry lobbyist CropLife America have been working closely with US officials to pressure Mexico into abandoning its intended ban on glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup.
Emails reviewed by The Guardian came from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and other federal agencies. They reveal discussions between Bayer, the owner of Monsanto, Croplife, a lobbying group funded by Bayer and officials in various agencies of the federal government have been ongoing for the past 18 months.
During this same time period, Bayer has been negotiating an $11 billion settlement of legal claims brought by people in the US who claim they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma due to exposure to the company’s glyphosate-based products.
While the pressure to get Mexico to do away with its ban on glyphosate does not appear to be working, the behind-the-scenes efforts of our federal agencies, in partnership with a big corporation proves just how much sway these companies have on what laws, regulations, or even treaties with other countries get the coveted nod of approval.
French citizens  particularly in rural areas  are increasingly concerned over the use of the weedkil...
French citizens, particularly in rural areas, are increasingly concerned over the use of the weedkilling chemical glyphosate found in herbicides such as Monsanto's Roundup
JACQUES DEMARTHON, AFP/File
The pressure on Mexico is similar to actions Bayer and chemical industry lobbyists took to kill a glyphosate ban planned by Thailand in 2019. Thailand officials had also cited concerns for public health in seeking to ban the weedkiller but reversed course after US threats about trade disruption.
On December 31, 2020, Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, published a “final decree” calling for the end of the use of glyphosate in the country by 2024. The decree also calls for a phase-out of the planting and consumption of genetically engineered corn, which farmers often spray with glyphosate, a practice that often leaves residues of the pesticide in finished food products.
The move is for the “purpose of contributing to food security and sovereignty” and “the health of Mexican men and women”, according to the Mexican government.
Monsanto has suffered the latest in a series of court defeats for its glyphosate-based weedkiller Ro...
Monsanto has suffered the latest in a series of court defeats for its glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup, which the company insists is not linked to cancer
JOSH EDELSON, AFP/File
What caused the uproar?
In the latter part of 2019 Mexico said it was refusing imports of glyphosate from China. In denying a permit for an import shipment, Mexican officials cited the “precautionary principle”, which generally refers to a policy of erring on the side of caution in dealing with substances for which there is scientific concern or dispute over safety.
In an email from Stephanie Murphy, Bayer’s government affairs executive, to Leslie Yang, USTR’s director for international trade and environmental policy, a reference was made to Mexico's rejection of the glyphosate shipment. The email went on to say that Mexico was “alleging that ‘glyphosate represents a high environmental risk, given the credible presumption that its use can cause serious environmental damage and irreversible health damage …”
Murphy also asked if she could “discuss the situation further” with USTR and see if there was “an opportunity for engagement given USMCA." She was referring to the trade agreement between the US, Canada, and Mexico.
It all ended up with a meeting in January 2020 between US and Mexican officials, including Luz María de la Mora, Mexico’s undersecretary for foreign trade. US officials raised concerns that the rejection of glyphosate imports was done “without a clear scientific justification."
In 2009  ABC News reported the once controllable pig weed was now destroying many cotton and soy har...
In 2009, ABC News reported the once controllable pig weed was now destroying many cotton and soy harvests because it had become resistant to glyphosate.
ABC News
And that was a really dumb talking point, seeing as it was coming from an administration that had shown time and again that it had no use for scientific evidence.
In February 2020, Murphy again emailed the USTR’s director for international trade - saying she was forwarding information from Mexico’s ministry of environment and natural resources that “claims to have scientific evidence about the dangerous effects of glyphosate, and also plans to conduct a study particular for Mexico, with assistance from international organizations
Finally, in March 2020, Robert Lighthizer, USTR’s ambassador got dragged into the melee, and he agreed - copying the heads of the USDA and the EPA, that Mexico’s actions were “incompatible with Mexico’s obligations under USMCA”, according to a CropLife letter.
It took until May before Lighthizer wrote to Graciela Márquez Colín, Mexico’s minister of economy, saying the GMO crop and glyphosate issues threatened to undermine “the strength of our bilateral relationship," referring to the USMCA.
This whole issue is about money or the bottom line of Bayer's profit and loss statement. They are afraid that other countries will follow in Mexico's footsteps. “If Mexico extends the precautionary principle” to pesticide residue levels in food, “$20bn in US annual agricultural exports to Mexico will be jeopardized”, wrote Chris Novak, CropLife president, to US officials.
NOTE: The documents about the Mexico matter were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and shared with the Guardian.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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