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9-Misc: US appears split over GE food case against EU



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                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  US appears split over biotech food case - EU
SOURCE: Reuters, by Doug Palmer
DATE:   Nov 25, 2002

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US appears split over biotech food case - EU

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration appears to be split over whether to 
bring a trade case against the European Union for blocking imports of 
genetically modified crops, EU officials said. "It's ... clear that not 
everybody in the U.S. government agrees on a WTO case," said one EU 
official.

While the U.S. Trade Representative's office appears eager to bring a case 
against the EU before the World Trade Organization, "it's quite clear the 
State Department is much more cautious," the official said, speaking on 
condition of anonymity.

U.S. farm and biotech groups recently stepped up pressure on the Bush 
administration to persuade the EU to lift it's four-year-old moratorium on 
the approval of genetically modified crops. The moratorium has resulted in 
a defacto ban on imports of genetically modified corn from the United 
States.

The EU position is driven by consumer fears over the safety of the food 
products, even though U.S. officials maintain there is no evidence that the 
modified crops pose any threat.

Any U.S. trade challenge could further strain relations with Europe at a 
time when the Bush administration's tariffs on imported steel and rejection 
of the Kyoto treaty on global warming has alienated many Europeans.

Last week, a coalition of 30 domestic agricultural groups urged U.S. Trade 
Representative Robert Zoellick to bring a WTO case against the EU if 
Brussels does not drop the moratorium.

The U.S. industry groups also want the EU to change proposals that require 
products made from genetically modified crops to be labeled and traced to 
their source.

The EU council of agricultural ministers could put the finishing touches on 
those proposals next week. Nine of the EU's 15 members are opposed to 
lifting the moratorium until the new labeling and traceability legislation 
is in place. That is not expected before next summer and could take even 
longer, EU officials said.

A WTO challenge by the United States could keep the moratorium in place 
even longer by encouraging EU member states to delay taking any action 
until the case is resolved, the aides said.

But Isi Siddiqui, vice president at CropLife America, a farm chemical and 
biotech industry group, said U.S. industry has nothing to lose by pursuing 
the case since there is no guarantee the EU will ever voluntarily lift its 
moratorium.

Bush administration officials recently have stepped up their criticism of 
the EU, saying its moratorium prompted some African nations to refuse U.S. 
food aid because of fears it could contain genetically modified crops.

The EU has "to do a better job of addressing the concern in sub-Saharan 
Africa, U.S. Commerce Undersecretary Grant Aldonas told reporters on 
Thursday. "Otherwise people are going to die" of starvation."

Willy Helin, a spokesman for the European Commission's delegation to 
Washington, said the comments were out of line.

"We sincerely believe those comments and those attacks were misplaced," 
Helin said. "We do not tell countries where and how to buy their goods."

However, the EU has told countries in Southern Africa that genetically 
modified crops examined so far by scientific officials "were safe for 
health," said another EU official.

EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy plans to carry that message when he 
travels next week to Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa, the aide added.


                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  EU's Lamy Warns U.S. Against Opening WTO Proceedings Against GMO 
Import Ban
SOURCE: International Trade Daily, The Bureau of National Affairs, USA, by 
Gary G. Yerkey
DATE:   Nov 12, 2002

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EU's Lamy Warns U.S. Against Opening WTO Proceedings Against GMO Import Ban

CHICAGO--European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said Nov. 8 warned the 
United States against launching formal dispute settlement proceedings in 
the World Trade Organization against the European Union over its de facto 
ban on imports of genetically modified foods, saying it would "freeze" the 
process now under way to lift the ban for years to come. "The whole thing 
will be blocked," he said. Lamy told BNA that the EU member states that 
currently oppose lifting the ban will harden their opposition and press the 
Commission to "fight" the United States and refuse to move.

Other EU officials said that a half dozen or more of EU member countries, 
led by France, continue to oppose removing the import ban at least until 
new regulations on labeling and tracing GMO food products have been put in 
place, which is not expected until late next spring at the earliest, if at 
all.

The warning from Lamy came as U.S. agriculture producers led by the 
American Farm Bureau Federation Nov. 8 called on the Bush administration to 
request immediate consultations with the EU in the WTO aimed at ending the 
EU's four-year-old ban on imports of food products derived from or 
containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

"The United States has exercised considerable patience as the EU grapples 
with this internally sensitive political issue," the groups said in a 
letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick. "But the continuing 
failure of the EU to move toward resolution should end U.S. patience. We 
believe it is time to engage the EU in a WTO dispute settlement proceeding 
against its illegal moratorium, and urge that you begin such engagement 
immediately."

'Illegal' Moratorium Cited by U.S

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by BNA, was signed by 29 U.S. 
agriculture associations in addition to the American Farm Bureau Federation 
ranging from the American Soybean Association to the National Cattlemen's 
Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council. "The EU's ongoing 
and illegal moratorium has resulted in lost markets for U.S. producers and 
exporters," the letter said, "a slowdown in the adoption of new 
technologies in the United States and other countries, and increased 
production and testing costs for U.S. agricultural interests." It said that 
the United States should also be prepared to begin WTO proceedings against 
the EU if significant changes are not made to proposed regulations now 
being considered in the EU on GMO labeling and traceability "should they 
become effective."

Lamy said in an interview with BNA that the Commission wants the 
reauthorization process for GMO approvals to begin "as soon as possible." 
But he said that a number of EU member states continue to block the 
process. "We [in the Commission] are striving hard to have them on board," 
he said. "But we're not yet there." Zoellick has told representatives of EU 
member states in recent weeks that the United States is losing patience 
over the issue and is on the verge of taking the dispute to the WTO, 
officials said.

Requesting consultations with the EU under the WTO's dispute settlement 
regime would allow the United States up to 60 days to decide whether to ask 
the WTO to set up a panel to adjudicate the dispute. A WTO panel normally 
has six months to conclude its deliberations under WTO rules.

Lamy also told BNA Nov. 8 that the EU will present its long-awaited 
proposal for further reforming agricultural trade at the WTO within weeks. 
"We're working extremely actively on it," he said, adding that it was still 
undergoing review within the Commission and with the 15 EU member states, 
"and we will [submit it] probably in weeks rather than months."

Other European officials, however, said that the EU proposal will not be 
nearly as specific as the U.S. proposal submitted earlier this year in 
terms of proposed reductions in support for the agricultural sector or time 
tables for action. "It will basically be a reiteration of what we've said 
all along, which is that we want to cut government support," one source 
told BNA.

Lamy Declines Comment on Election 2002

Lamy also said in his interview with BNA that he and Zoellick had met in 
New York Nov. 6 to discuss the WTO talks and the whole range of current WTO 
dispute settlement cases involving the United States the EU, including U.S. 
and EU non-compliance, respectively, with WTO rulings against U.S. tax 
breaks for exporters and EU restrictions on imports of hormone-treated 
beef. Speaking on the margins of the annual meeting of the Trans-Atlantic 
Business Dialogue (TABD), Lamy declined to comment on the impact the 
congressional elections Nov. 5 likely will have on prospects for passage of 
legislation to bring the United States into compliance with the WTO rulings 
in the so-called foreign sales corporation (FSC) tax-related dispute.

But Lamy did say that "in theory, if you look at history, it makes things 
easier" to enact legislation when one party controls both the House and the 
Senate. He said that, in the meantime, he expects to begin "interacting" on 
the FSC issue with Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who will take over as 
chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in the 108th Congress beginning 
next year. "He knows about this stuff," Lamy said of Grassley. "He's a 
rather trade-conscious guy--at least above average."

 

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