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ealthy News Service: WTO Likely to Attempt to Force GMOs on Europe

WTO Likely to Attempt to Force GMOs on Europe

by Organic Consumers Association - 1/4/2006

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National Campaign For Sustainable Agriculture's Genetic Engineering Update
January 4, 2006


A Joint Statement on the Forthcoming WTO Decision in the U.S.--E.U. Gene Food Dispute

In January 2006, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is expected to rule on a 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 unwanted gene altered varieties to the rest of the world. We support global
regulations of these inadequately tested foods, mandatory labeling, and the 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 granting 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, are the 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 of Europe to find other sources for food. South Korea was once the number two buyer of U.S. corn but now buys non-GE corn elsewhere, and China looks to Brazil for non-GE soy. Consumer preference for non-GE food will continue regardless of Bush Administration assaults on European or other national or 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 the E.U. to look elsewhere for safe, non-GE food choices.

While Europe and much of the rest of the world, including Australia, Japan, 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 stop threatening free choice and food safety through contentious international trade disputes, and instead start working to provide Americans with the same protections for safe, natural food choices that European and other governments around the world have established.

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Provided by Organic Consumers Association on 1/4/2006

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