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6-Regulation: U.S. files WTO case against EU GMO moratorium - freetrade fighters



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TITLE:  Does the European Biotech Moratorium Harm the Developing World?
SOURCE: Competitive Enterprise Institute, USA
DATE:   May 2003

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Does the European Biotech Moratorium Harm the Developing World?
'The Problem of Import Restrictions on Genetically Engineered Food'

Seminar: Tuesday, May 13, 2003; 12:00am to 1:30pm

Venue: Decatur House, 1610 H Street NW, Washington, DC (One block North
of the White House)

Seminar 
Hosted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington DC
www.cei.org. A panel of distinguished international scientists will
discuss developing world experience with biotech crops and their
extraordinary potential to help alleviate hunger and poverty. They will
also discuss the impact of the EU biotech crop moratorium on developing
countries and call on the EU to end the moratorium immediately.

Speakers include:
Dr. Norman Borlaug (invited), Nobel Peace Prize Winner
Professor C. S. Prakash, Tuskegee University Center for Plant
Biotechnology Research
Professor Diran Makinde, Vinda University School of Agriculture, South Africa
Dr. Ariel Alvarez-Morales, Center for Research and Advanced Studies,
Irapuato, Mexico
T.J. Buthelezi, Biotech cotton farmer, KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa
Gregory Conko, Food Policy Expert, CEI

Lunch will be served. 
For more information, please call Megan McLaughlin at +1-202-331-2271.


                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Scientists Urge European Union to End Biotech Food Ban
        Call on U.S. to Challenge Import Restrictions
SOURCE: Competitive Enterprise Institute, USA
        http://www.cei.org/gencon/003,03471.cfm
DATE:   May 12, 2003

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Scientists Urge European Union to End Biotech Food Ban
Call on U.S. to Challenge Import Restrictions

Contact for Interviews:
Richard Morrison, +1-202.331.2273

Washington, D.C., May 12, 2003 - A distinguished panel of international
scientists will gather tomorrow in Washington to speak out against the
European Union's moratorium on trade in genetically engineered foods.
Agricultural experts from around the world will discuss the negative
impact of the EU moratorium on the developing world and urge the United
States government to mount a World Trade Organization challenge.

"The European Union's refusal to license new biotech crops is a clear and
blatant violation of its obligations under trade treaties it has signed
and ratified," said Competitive Enterprise Institute Director of Food
Safety Policy Gregory Conko. "More importantly, it poses a genuine threat
to the health and well-being of people throughout the developing world."

As a direct consequence of the EU moratorium, numerous developing
countries have resisted adopting high-yielding biotech crops for fear of
losing important European export markets. Last fall, the countries of
Zambia and Zimbabwe even refused to accept U.S. food aid, out of fear
that European countries would cease future imports from those countries.
The United States and other nations have considered filing an official
WTO complaint against the moratorium. Tomorrow's event is being held to
urge the U.S. government to act now.

"Many biotech plant varieties have great potential to help alleviate
hunger and poverty in the world's poorest nations," said Tuskegee
University plant genetics professor C.S. Prakash, a native of India and a
speaker at the event. "But poor country governments will not introduce
them as long as it means almost automatically forfeiting sales to Europe,
one of the most important global markets."

Conko added: "Even European scientific bodies acknowledge that there is
no health or environmental risk from biotech crops, making the moratorium
a prima facie violation of the EU's legal obligations."

Panelists contributing to tomorrow's discussion will include Dr. Norman
Borlaug, agricultural scientist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize;
Professor Prakash of Tuskegee University; Professor Diran Makinde, Dean
of the Vinda University School of Agriculture in South Africa; Dr. Ariel
Alvarez-Morales of Mexico's Center for Research and Advanced Studies; and
T.J. Buthelezi, a biotech cotton farmer from the KwaZulu-Natal province
of South Africa.


CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the
principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more
information about CEI, please visit our website at www.cei.org.


                                  PART III
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TITLE:  Biotech Trade Challenge a Boon for Developing World
        Scientists Speak Out on Potential of New Crop Varieties
SOURCE: Competitive Enterprise Institute, USA
        http://www.cei.org/gencon/003,03475.cfm
DATE:   May 13, 2003

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Biotech Trade Challenge a Boon for Developing World
Scientists Speak Out on Potential of New Crop Varieties

Contact for Interviews:
Richard Morrison, +1-202.331.2273

Washington, D.C., May 13, 2003 - The Competitive Enterprise Institute
applauds today's announcement by the Office of the U.S. Trade
Representative that it, along with Canada, Argentina, Egypt, and nine
other countries, will file a World Trade Organization case against the
European Union over its moratorium on approving new biotech crops. CEI
was joined in emphasizing the importance of free trade in agricultural
products by a distinguished panel of international scientists at a
briefing this afternoon.

"The EU's biotech moratorium is a clear and blatant violation of its
obligations under trade treaties it has signed and ratified," said
Competitive Enterprise Institute Director of Food Safety Policy Gregory
Conko. "More importantly, it has hindered the ability of poorer countries
to take a part in the biotechnology revolution, shutting off access to
crops that could help address food security concerns."

Although removing this hindrance to exporting U.S. agricultural products
will be welcomed by domestic growers, the much greater benefit will be to
allow less developed countries to adopt higher yielding varieties without
the fear of forfeiting lucrative European markets. "We've already
developed biotech crop varieties specifically for resource-poor farmers,"
said Dr. Ariel Alvarez-Morales of Mexico's Center for Research and
Advanced Studies. "But scientifically baseless regulations in Europe and
elsewhere have kept them in the lab instead of the field where they can
do some good."

Dr. Alvarez-Morales was one of the scientists assembled today for CEI's
briefing on agricultural biotechnology and the needs of the developing
world, Does the European Biotech Moratorium Harm the Developing World?:
The Problem of Import Restrictions on Genetically Engineered Food.

Other speakers included Professor C.S. Prakash of Tuskegee University;
Professor Diran Makinde, Dean of the Vinda University School of
Agriculture in South Africa; and T.J. Buthelezi, a biotech cotton farmer
from the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the
principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more
information about CEI, please visit our website at www.cei.org.


                                  PART IV
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TITLE:  Time for the GM Moratorium to Go
SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal Europe, by Gregory Conko and C.S. Prakash
        posted at http://www.cei.org/gencon/019,03474.cfm
DATE:   May 13, 2003

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Time for the GM Moratorium to Go

After months of anticipation, the U.S. government is expected to file a
formal complaint today with the World Trade Organization against the
European Union's five-year moratorium on new genetically modified crop
varieties. The move will undoubtedly be ridiculed as a cynical attempt by
Americans to force GM products down the throats of skeptical Europeans.
Yet, while the U.S. is surely motivated by a parochial desire to aid
American farmers, filing such a complaint will have benefits far beyond
U.S. borders. The biggest beneficiaries are sure to be resource-poor
farmers in less developed countries.

By now, many readers will be familiar with the story of Zambian President
Levy Mwanawasa, who, last autumn, rejected some 23,000 metric tons of
food aid in the midst of a two-year-long drought that threatened the
lives of over two million Zambians.

President Mwanawasa's public explanation was that the GM maize from the
United States was "poison." But other Zambian government officials
conceded that the bigger concern was for future corn exports to the EU
market. If even a little of the food aid were diverted to seed stock, it
could threaten the exportability of the entire Zambian maize crop for
many years to come.

Zambia is not unique. European GM restrictions have had other, similar,
consequences throughout the developing world. Thai government officials
have been warned by European importers not to authorize any GM rice
varieties. Uganda has stopped research on GM bananas and postponed their
introduction indefinitely. Argentina has limited its approvals to two GM
crop varieties that are already permitted in European markets. Even
China, which has spent hundreds of millions of euros funding advanced
biotechnology research, has refused to authorize any new GM food crops
since the moratorium began.

Critics often deride GM crops with built-in pest, weed, and disease
resistance as helpful only for wealthy farmers in industrialized nations;
but developing countries could benefit tremendously from the adoption of
GM crops.

As much as 40 percent of conventional crop productivity in Africa and
Asia is lost to insect pests, weeds, and plant diseases. But many of the
same GM crops available in North America are already helping poor farmers
in South Africa, India, China, and the Philippines combat often-voracious
insects while reducing the amount of insecticides or eliminating them
altogether. Indeed, studies of South African and Chinese cotton growers
suggest that small farmers actually achieve disproportionately higher
benefits from GM relative to larger competitors because expensive
machinery can at times be made obsolete.

What's more, GM crops with added nutritional benefits - such as the much-
touted golden rice and high-protein sweet potatoes - are likely to be
available within a few years.

Still, the EU moratorium persists after five long years despite copious
evidence that genetic modification does not pose any risks that aren't
also present in other crop-breeding methods. A review of 81 separate
research projects, conducted over 15 years and funded exclusively by the
EU, found that GM crops and foods are just as safe for the environment
and for human consumption as conventional crops, and in some cases are
even safer because the genetic changes in the plants are much more precise.

Dozens of scientific organizations, including the U.N.'s Food and
Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization, have studied
GM techniques and given them a clean bill of health. And in December, the
French Academies of Medicine and Science added their names to that
growing list and called for an end to the moratorium.

Some will claim that the EU is already set to end the moratorium just as
soon as its new approval regulations and labeling and traceability rules
are implemented by member nations. Why risk a consumer backlash at a time
when the moratorium's end is within sight? But this naive assertion
overlooks four important facts.

First, several EU members have already missed the first deadline for
implementing the new GM rules, and debates still rage over the
coexistence of GM, conventional, and organic crops. How close are they
really to ending the moratorium?

Second, even if implementation is ultimately completed, what is to
prevent individual members from ignoring the EU-wide rules? The European
Commission has been famously impotent in pressing Austria, Luxembourg,
and Italy to accept GM products that have already been approved by the EU.

Third, the new GM labeling and traceability rules are hardly an
improvement on the current situation. Industrialized countries like the
United States, Canada, and Australia may be able to comply. But for poor
developing countries, the added cost and complexity of the labeling and
traceability rules would only replace a de jure ban with a de facto one,
shutting them out of the GM revolution for good.

Fourth, special regulations based solely on the process used in a
product's creation are just as illegal as a ban under the terms of
international treaties signed and ratified by the EU. So, the new GM
rules don't even serve to bring the EU into WTO compliance. Nor are they
needed, since voluntarily labeled non- GM foods can be found in almost
every shop in Western Europe, giving consumers choice.

Interestingly, studies of consumer behavior show that, where labeled GM
foods and labeled non-GM foods are available, even most European
consumers seem to be indifferent to the "genetic status" of the goods
they purchase. Indeed, the best possible scenario for all involved would
be to end the moratorium immediately and genuinely expand consumers'
ability to choose.

The EU's blatant flaunting of scientific assessments is why a WTO
challenge is likely to succeed. And the fact that less developed
countries are most likely to benefit is why the United States should file
it. A decision by the 140-member World Trade Organization would send an
important signal from the international community that the EU's
groundless and genuinely harmful biotechnology restrictions must go.