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6-Regulation: U.S. files WTO case against EU GMO moratorium - TheGreens & NGOs

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                                  PART I
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TITLE:  US to file WTO case against Europe's GMO moratorium:
        Greens/EFA condemn US-led assault on EU's regulation of GMOs
DATE:   May 13, 2003

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US to file WTO case against Europe's GMO moratorium:
Greens/EFA condemn US-led assault on EU's regulation of GMOs

The Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament condemned the United
States' decision today to file a case with the World Trade Organisation
(WTO) against the European Union's de-facto moratorium on approvals of
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and foodstuffs. The US is supported
by a number of other countries - including Argentina, Canada, and Egypt -
in its challenge to the EU's precautionary approach to the production and
sale of GM seeds and foodstuffs.

In October 1998 the EU stopped approving new GMOs that would be placed on
the market. A group of six Member States (France, Denmark, Italy, Greece,
Austria and Luxembourg) declared that they would vote against any GMO
marketing application until further rules were put into place ensuring
firstly that GM products can be traced back to their source, and secondly
that all GMO-derived products are labelled.

Reacting to the US's announcement Hiltrud Breyer, MEP (Greens - Germany)
said: "This move represents a major miscalculation by the US
administration. Even if the WTO decides that the EU moratorium is
illegal, this action will not convince European consumers who, in their
vast majority, still reject GM food. The EU will move from the moratorium
in its current form to a GMO moratorium based on consumer rejection. The
new EU rules which Parliament will vote on in second reading in July will
not only make sure that GM products are traceable, they will also for the
first time give consumers the freedom of informed choice: all GM food
will have to be labelled. And I am pretty sure that whatever the outcome
of the WTO case, GM food will not become any more popular in Europe."

Jill Evans (EFA - Wales), MEP said: "The complaint underlines a
fundamental problem with the WTO's disputes system. When the EU or its
Member States determine that it is in the interests of its consumers to
take a certain precautionary line of action, as in withholding commercial
licences for GMOs, or refusing to import hormone-treated beef, it should
have the sovereign right to do so - free from challenge under trade
rules. This is what this case is also about: the sovereign right of WTO
members to halt the approval of products until the full set of rules is
in place that ensure both safety and consumers' freedom of choice.
Ultimately, this case might show that something is wrong with both GMOs
and the WTO."

Caroline Lucas MEP (Greens - UK) said: "By trying to use the WTO to force
GM foods on European consumers, the US is launching the mother of all
trade wars - and could bring about the institution's collapse. European
consumers are far more concerned about the environmental dangers
associated with GM food than about the WTO. By challenging the EU on
genetic modifcation, the US will transfer public hostility to GM-foods
onto the WTO itself. The implications of the challenge are enormous.
Public opinion will swing even further away from the WTO and the Cancun
ministerial will make the Seattle protests look like a Boston Tea Party.
If the US wants a fight it has certainly picked one. The US is trying,
yet again, to impose its unpopular policies on Europe when it has yet to
rebuild the bridges it tore down in the run-up to the war in Iraq. This
could be the last straw."


Press Service of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament
Helmut Weixler
Head of Press Office
phone: 0032-2-284.4683
fax: 0032-2-284.4944
mobile phone: 0032-475-67 13 40

                                  PART II
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SOURCE: Friends of the Earth Europe, Belgium, Press Release
DATE:   May 13, 2003

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The United States administration is to bring a case in the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) against the European Union over genetically modified
food according to media reports today [1]. The US case may be joined by
Argentina and Canada, large-scale GM producers, and by Egypt, hoping for
a US free trade deal later this year. The US will argue that the current
EU moratorium on the commercial development of GM foods is an "illegal"
trade barrier under WTO rules. But environment pressure group Friends of
the Earth is warning the move is the latest in a series of attempts by
the US to block other countries' decisions to protect their environment,
human health and social standards.

The move threatens to bring the full force of WTO sanctions to bear in
order to force GM food into European markets regardless of the wishes of
European consumers. The US is likely to attempt to prevent any effective
labelling of food derived from GM ingredients.

US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick has threatened a WTO case over GM
on several occasions, most recently in January this year, but is believed
to have been told by the White House to back off during attempts to
secure European support for the invasion of Iraq. The US Administration
has been lobbied heavily to by GM companies such as Monsanto and by big
US farming interests such as the National Corn Growers Association.

WTO procedures are complex and secretive, and have been heavily
criticised by environmentalists and others for their pro-business bias.
In particular, WTO rules are hostile to the fundamental precautionary

Alexandra Wandel, trade co-ordinator of FoEE commented:

"This may be the moment of truth for the future of GM food in Europe, and
future trade relations between the European Union and United States. It
is clear that this US Administration, backed by some of the richest and
most powerful lobbyists in US politics, is determined to use the
secretive, biased and undemocratic procedures of the WTO to bulldoze
through attempts by other states to set minimum environmental, social and
health standards. If this attempt succeeds, the US will force GM foods
onto European markets regardless of the wishes of consumers.''

Geert Ritsema, GMO campaign co-ordinator said ''The European Commission
and national governments must find the courage to stand up to this
outrageous piece of bullying. Decisions over the future of GM crops in
Europe must not be made in the George Bush White House. Friends of the
Earth will step up its GM campaign to fight this outrageous challenge to
Europe's right to say no to GMOs." Ends

Adrian Bebb, GMO expert: +49 16094901163 (mobile)
Geert Ritsema, GMO campaign co-ordinator: +31 6 29 005908 (mobile)
Alexandra Wandel, WTO campaign co-ordinator, +49 172 748 39 53 (mobile)


Notes 1. The FT reports today that "The US is set to announce today it
will file a long-anticipated case in the World Trade Organisation aimed
at forcing the European Union to lift its de facto moratorium on
genetically modified foods, according to administration and congressional

AP reports that "President George W. Bush's administration has decided to
bring a trade case against the European Union over Europe's ban on
imports of genetically modified food, congressional officials say."

Friends of the Earth is the largest grassroots environmental network in
the world campaigning to protect the environment and to create
sustainable societies. Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) unites more
than 30 national member groups with thousands of local groups. 

                                  PART III
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TITLE:  Canada joins a WTO action against the EU over GMO ban
        "Not in our name," says the Council of Canadians
SOURCE: The Council of Canadians
DATE:   May 13, 2003

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Canada joins a WTO action against the EU over GMO ban
"Not in our name," says the Council of Canadians

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, May 13, 2003 - The Council of Canadians strongly
condemns the Canadian government's decision to support the United States'
challenge of the European Union's moratorium on the import of genetically
engineered (GE) foods. In the Council's view, this action is a blatant
disrespect of the democratic will of European citizens, who repeatedly
expressed their opposition to GE foods.

"This action is an embarrassment for Canadians," says Nadège Adam,
campaigner for the Council of Canadians. "Not only does this government
refuse to label genetically engineered products in Canada - it now wants
to impose these foods on the rest of the world."

In response to consumer pressure, European governments instituted a
moratorium on GE food imports. Not convinced of the safety of genetically
engineered foods and seeing no need for this technology, Europeans have
demanded that their food supply not be compromised until proof is shown
that these products are safe for public consumption. Unlike the Canadian
government, EU officials decided to honour that demand and have been
harassed by Canada and the United States ever since.

"When will this government understand that people around the world simply
do not want to eat GE foods and that a policy of forcing these foods down
everyone's throat is not only foolish and unsustainable, it also flies in
the face of a person's fundamental right to choose what they want to eat.

"We hope that Europeans understand that though this government claims to
be taking this course of action in the name of Canadians, this is
actually being done in the name of the biotech industry which has always
been able to rely on this government to fight their battles," adds Adam.


For more information, please contact:
Nadege Adam, Campaigner - Council of Canadians, +1-613.233.4487 ext. 245
or +1-613.295.0432 (cell.)
 Guy Caron, Media Relations Officer - Council of Canadians, +1-
613.233.4487 ext. 234