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7-Misc: US threatens to leaf WTO if GMO struggle continues

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European Report
March 17, 1999

A top official in the Clinton Administration has warned that if the 
European Union consistently sets up barriers to American exports, it will 
erode support in the United States Congress for the multilateral trade 
system. Stuart Eizenstat, the Under Secretary for Economic, Business and 
Agricultural Affairs, warned on March 15 that the EU's perceived failure 
to open its markets in line with the World Trade Organisation's rulings 
"undercut critically needed support in Congress and the agricultural 
community for the WTO".

Congress is due to vote shortly on continued US membership of the WTO, 
and the Clinton Administration is concerned that if the Geneva-based 
trade watchdog cannot force the EU to change its policies, then the 
lawmakers will turn against the WTO. Mr Eizenstat talked of the broader 
ramifications for the future of the WTO dispute settlement system of the 
current wrangle with the EU over bananas and beef hormones. "We must 
continue to advance the basic principles of respecting trade commitments, 
establishing transparent and predictable regulatory processes, and using 
science-based decision making on environmental, health and safety 
issues", he said. "If we cannot show Americans that the trading system 
works for them, then we will not be able to sustain our policies in the 
international arena."

But potentially the biggest row could come in the area of biotechnology 
and genetically -modified organisms (GMOs). Mr Eizenstat predicted that 
within a few years, virtually 100% of US agricultural commodity exports 
will be genetically modified or mixed with GMO products - already half or 
more of this year's US soyabean and cotton crop, and one third of this 
year's corn crop could be produced with genetically -modified seed. "We 
of course respect the EU's right to have a system of government oversight 
for genetically -modified organisms", he said. "But the EU approval 
system for GMOs is non-transparent, unpredictable, not based on 
scientific principles, and all too susceptible to political 
interference." He also complained about media 'misinformation' about 
GMOs, in particular in the United Kingdom.

-| Hartmut Meyer
-| Co-ordinator
-| The European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
-| Reinhaeuser Landstr. 51
-| D - 37083 Goettingen
-| Germany
-| phone: #49-551-7700027
-| fax  : #49-551-7701672
-| email:

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