In a follow-up to its October 2018 meeting, five members of MAIZALL, the international maize alliance, were in Geneva this month to advocate for agricultural innovation with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo and five other WTO country representatives.
Rapid innovation in agriculture benefits farmers who can grow more and higher quality crops using fewer natural resources. But these same innovations push governments around the world to determine the best ways to regulate these modern practices, and the WTO helps determine whether these policies are fair. MAIZALL encourages countries to adopt science-based policies to prevent disruptions to trade.
“It is extremely important to show the Director-General that the farmer alliance that is MAIZALL believes innovation is important and we need to draw attention to innovation at the highest levels within the WTO,” said MAIZALL Board Member Chip Councell.
MAIZALL President Cesario Ramalho, MAIZALL Board Members Councell and Juan Minvielle, Abramilho Consultant Plinio Nastari, and MAIZALL Consultant Benno van der Laan met with Azevedo to emphasize the importance MAIZALL and its objectives, especially regarding the European Union’s (EU’s) new policy for pesticide maximum residue levels (MRLs). The EU’s hazard-based approach was set forth in a policy document that debuted in July 2017 and was officially endorsed in May 2018 by the Commission and the Member States. The new approach has resulted in a number of active ingredients losing their authorization and is viewed by many to be in conflict with the WTO.
Azevedo congratulated MAIZALL on coming together to address market access issues and for its persistence and suggested developing an international “vision” for agriculture in the 21st Century. He suggested the group continue to advocate for and promote international standards and said he was willing to give MAIZALL a forum to shed light on these topics at the WTO, inviting MAIZALL members to participate in the joint WTO-Food and Agriculture Organization-World Health Organization Food Safety and Trade Conference in Geneva in April.
“Bringing awareness to MAIZALL’s priorities and getting recognition from the leader at the WTO is very important,” said van der Laan.
MAIZALL was formed in 2013 by the corn growers’ associations in Argentina, Brazil and the United States to collaborate on how to address global market access barriers related to the introduction of new technologies in agriculture, particularly biotechnology. The organization is committed to three areas of focus: communicating the benefits of modern agricultural production methods and technologies, addressing asynchronous approval of biotech products and promoting regulatory harmonization.
In addition to the Azevedo meeting, the MAIZALL members also held positive meetings with WTO representatives from Brazil, Argentina, Ukraine, Russia and Australia to bring awareness to the importance of science-based decision-making on biotechnology, pesticide MRLs, free trade and innovation in agriculture. The delegation was unable to meet with U.S. representatives to the WTO due to the U.S. government shutdown.
MAIZALL members will host its next meeting in March in Brasilia and will discuss, among other items, corn’s role as part of the ethanol “food versus fuel debate” around the world.
For more information on MAIZALL, click here.