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6-Regulation: U.S. delays WTO actions against EU GMO moratorium butseeks allies



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

TITLE:  U.S. Delays Suing Europe Over Ban on Modified Food
SOURCE: The New York Times, USA, by Elizabeth Becker
        http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/05/international/europe/05TRAD.html
DATE:   Feb 5, 2003

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U.S. Delays Suing Europe Over Ban on Modified Food

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 - With war looming in Iraq, the Bush administration
has decided against antagonizing its European allies and has postponed
filing a case against the European Union for its ban on genetically
modified food, according to a senior administration official.

"There is no point in testing Europeans on food while they are being
tested on Iraq," said a senior White House official who asked not to be
identified.

Robert B. Zoellick, the United States trade representative, had said that
the administration would decide soon whether to sue the Europeans for
what he called their "immoral" opposition to genetically modified food.
He said that stand was leading to starvation in the developing world.

A cabinet meeting to consider the suit was canceled this week as European
agricultural officials descended on Washington to argue for patience.

Even so, the conflict will resurface soon. Mr. Zoellick has said he
believes that genetically modified food could help alleviate hunger - as
well as open markets for American farmers - and wants the European
opposition to be confronted so that developing nations accept food from
genetically modified crops.

But the heated rhetoric of a few weeks ago, when Mr. Zoellick accused the
Europeans of having a Luddite attitude against biotechnology, was muted
this week as both sides stressed the importance of lifting the ban.

The question is when.

Ann M. Veneman, the United States agriculture secretary, has said that
"our patience is just running out."

Franz Fischler, the European Union's farm commissioner, said that he met
with Ms. Veneman and told her the problem would be resolved within three
or four months.

"We do not have a fundamental opposition to genetically modified food,"
said Mr. Fischler at a press conference today. "We are in the final
phases of passing our laws in Parliament and we would strongly advise not
to start an action that would disrupt that."

Experts agree that the United States could win a case at the World Trade
Organization and force a lifting of the four-year-old ban.

At the same time, they agree that the ultimate resolution of this case
will rest on labeling - not opposing notions of science - and that it
promises to pit European ideas of proper regulation against American
notions about free and unfettered trade.

European consumers have for years questioned the safety of genetically
modified food out of fear that those modifications may have unknown, and
unintended, consequences for human health.

They are demanding labels that identify which food has been genetically
modified and has passed rigorous testing. The agricultural establishment
in the United States is just as strongly opposed, saying that once the
food has passed tests there is no need to distinguish it with label that
could be seen as a warning.

"That implies that there is something wrong with genetically modified
food," said Elsa Murano, the Agriculture Department's undersecretary for
food safety. "It would be another kind of trade barrier."

Industry also complains of the cost. "Labeling is a sham," said Mary Kay
Thatcher, lobbyist for American Farm Bureau, a powerful agricultural
group. "It would be so expensive, it would shut down our exports."

Margaret Beckett, the British minister in charge of food and the
environment, said both sides of the argument had to understand the
serious cultural differences underlying the disagreement.

After the deaths in Europe from mad cow disease and the subsequent
killing of herds infected by foot and mouth disease, European consumers
are wary of any food that is not clearly labeled and easily traced.

"Extravagant claims are sometimes made on either side of the argument,"
she said. "Whether we like it or not, there is an expectation of
traceability and labeling of all kinds of products among European
consumers. You are not going to convince them that GM products should be
an exception to what is the norm."

While European nations agree on the need for labeling in the face of deep
consumer fears, American lawmakers have had a more mixed record.

Although it took 12 years of lobbying by farmers, chefs and
environmentalists, the agriculture department last year created an
official organic label to show consumers what produce has been raised
without conventional pesticides or fertilizers, antibiotics or growth
hormones. The food is growing in popularity - it is a $4 billion industry
- and public response was overwhelmingly in favor of the new label.

As industry feared, the cost of the label has proved prohibitive for some
of the smallest farmers - averaging $5,000 each year - and the paperwork
is time-consuming. Federal officials believe that the process could be
streamlined over the years.

In last year's farm bill, Congress included a provision opposed by much
of agribusiness that required that all meat, fish and produce be labeled
with its country of origin within two years.

Already, Canada has complained that the new country of origin labeling
will restrict its trade with the United States, especially in meat. In a
study released last month, Canadian officials complained of the cost and
suggested that the new provision should be withdrawn.

That is unlikely until the European ban on genetically modified food is
lifted and the issue of labeling is confronted head on.

Trade and agricultural experts predict that in the end a compromise may
have to be reached among competing interests within the United States as
well as between the Europeans and the Americans.

"The United States is not monolithic," said John Audley of Carnegie
Endowment. "Business groups may have to yield on labeling while activists
will have to yield on allowing genetically modified food to be sold and
let consumers decide what they want."


                                  PART II
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TITLE:  US expects allies for gene crop case against EU
SOURCE: 
DATE:   Feb 6, 2003

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US expects allies for gene crop case against EU

GENEVA - The United States expects other farm exporters to join any
challenge to the European Union at the World Trade Organisation (WTO)
over biotech crops, a senior U.S. official said. Peter Allgeier, Deputy
U.S. Trade Representative, told reporters Washington was in consultations
with potential allies on the timing of any WTO action against the EU's
four-year-old moratorium on approval of genetically modified (GM)
products. "I am very confident there will be others. I do not think we
will be faced with a decision on whether to go it alone," Allgeier told a
news conference late yesterday. But he declined to name the countries or
to say when a final decision might be taken. "Just think of major
agriculture exporting countries," he said when asked to name some of the
possible allies. EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fishcler, on a visit to the
United States, said yesterday the U.S. had still to make up its mind
about whether to bring the case, which the EU has warned could strain
trade relations and intensify opposition within the 15-nation bloc to GM foods