National Campaign For Sustainable Agriculture's Genetic Engineering
January 4, 2006
GENE ALTERED FOODS WILL REMAIN A LOSING PROPOSITION FOR U.S. FARMERS,
DESPITE WTO DECISION
A Joint Statement on the Forthcoming WTO Decision in the U.S.--E.U. Gene
In January 2006, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is expected to rule
Bush Administration challenge to European rejection of genetically
engineered (GE) food.
While the WTO is expected to rule in favor of the U.S., the case underlines
the bankruptcy of current US policy, which is seeking to bully European
markets into taking U.S. gene altered crops. Ultimately, European consumers
cannot be forced to buy and eat food that they do not want.
In anticipation of this ruling, the undersigned U.S. organizations reject
the Administration’s aggressive tactics in attempting to force-feed
gene altered varieties to the rest of the world. We support global
regulations of these inadequately tested foods, mandatory labeling, and
right to restrict where GE crops are grown.
The current U.S. case against Europe at the WTO does not challenge present
E.U. regulations on GE food, but only concerns Europe’s delay in
approvals of new GE varieties, a “de facto moratorium” that
Europe lifted in
2004. Regardless of the outcome of the case, European and worldwide refusal
to buy GE foods from the U.S. will continue. We are concerned that
regardless of the outcome at the WTO, American farmers are the big losers,
since the Bush Administration’s arrogant stance on GE food is alienating
many of our food trading partners.
The Administration claims that the E.U. delay in granting new GE crop
approvals has resulted in lost markets for American farmers. But clearly
consumers’ preference for non-GE food, and not regulatory issues,
true engine of the market collapse for American crops. Even before the
so-called European “moratorium” was enacted in late 1998, U.S.
corn sales to
Europe had dropped by more than half.
The advent of GE grain from the U.S. has also spurred countries outside
Europe to find other sources for food. South Korea was once the number
buyer of U.S. corn but now buys non-GE corn elsewhere, and China looks
Brazil for non-GE soy. Consumer preference for non-GE food will continue
regardless of Bush Administration assaults on European or other national
international GE regulations. Based on recent surveys of U.S. wheat, rice
and alfalfa export customers, it is clear that any indication that a GE
variety will be planted in the U.S. prompts our major buyers in Asia and
E.U. to look elsewhere for safe, non-GE food choices.
While Europe and much of the rest of the world, including Australia,
Korea, China and several other countries have strong health and
environmental protections against the risks of GE food, and mandatory
labeling to insure consumer choice, in the U.S. deregulated GE foods are
sold without labels to unwitting Americans. The Administration should
threatening free choice and food safety through contentious international
trade disputes, and instead start working to provide Americans with the
protections for safe, natural food choices that European and other
governments around the world have established.