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

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                                  PART I
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SOURCE: Friends of the Earth Europe, Press Release
DATE:   May 15, 2003

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As EU Trade Commissioner Lamy is on his way today to meet US trade
representative Zoellick in Paris, Friends of the Earth Europe urged the
European Commission to stand firm on the right to say no to genetically
modified organisms (GMOs). Lamy and Zoellick will meet informally at the
Bilderberg conference (1) just two days after the US has filed a
complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over Europe's de facto

The US aims to force the EU through a strict WTO dispute panel ruling too
open its markets to GMOs. WTO rulings are binding and the EU could be
forced to either alter its policy toward GM crops or face economic
sanctions across a range of sectors [2]. The complaint is the result of
heavy lobbying by big US-based biotechnology multinationals like Monsanto.

The US's decision is likely to increase anti American protests in Europe
where according to opinion polls 70% of the public don't want to eat food
derived from GMOs and 94% want the right to choose (Eurobarometer
Decembre 2001).

Today Friends of the Earth has launched an email action at http:// (3) inviting concerned citizens and consumers to write
to their US ambassadors asking them to withdraw the WTO complaint. In the
alert it says that ''the US government is sending a strong message to
European citizens that the US does not respect either our democracy or
our freedoms.'

Following the submission of the complaint at the WTO, the EU and US will
consult within the next 60 days to see if a solution without a WTO
dispute settlement ruling can be found (4). The new transatlantic trade
war is also likely to influence preparations for the next WTO Ministerial
Conference to be held from 10-14 September in Cancun.

In light of the meeting between Lamy and Zoellick Alexandra Wandel, trade
co-ordinator of FoEE said ''"The Bush White House and US business
interests should not have the right to make decisions about what people
in Europe get to eat. But the current WTO system means that this could be
the case. The European Commission must stand firm and act to defend our
right to eat what we choose.''

ENDS Contact:
Adrian Bebb, GMO expert: +00 49 1609 490 1163 m
Alexandra Wandel, trade co-ordinator + 0049 172 748 39 53 m

1) Pascal Lamy will attend today and tomorrow the Bilderberg conference
where according to International Trade Daily, 14 May he will meet
Zoellick. Bilderberg will hold its annual secret meeting at the Trianon
Palace Hotel in Versailles, France May 15-18. International political
leaders from Europe and North America will conduct public business behind
closed doors.

2) Previous cases have included the so-called hormone beef and bananas
case, where the US threatened more than US$500 million worth of
unilateral trade sanctions on EU products. The sectors targeted have
nothing to do with the original complaints. In the past they included
mustard, cheese, truffles and other gourmet products, pork and other meat
exports, canned tomatoes and fruit juices and have hit often small business.

3) The alert is available at
press_for_change/email_us_embassy/ and has been posted
on various websites all over Europe.

4) A background briefing on the dispute is available from http://

The EU Commission timetable for complaint:
Filing of request by US (Mid May),
Consultation (60 days Mid July),
Request for establishment of Panels (immediate),
Establishment of Panel +/-45 days End August
Appointment of Panelists 20 days End September
US 1st written submission 3 weeks Mid October
EC first written submission 2 weeks Early November

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Force Feeding
SOURCE: mon sense, USA, by Lori Wallach
DATE:   May 14, 2003

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Force Feeding

Lori Wallach is director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.

The Bush administration announced on May 13 it will formally challenge
Europe's moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) at the World
Trade Organization (WTO).

This case will become Exhibit No. 1 in the growing worldwide attack on
the WTO's legitimacy. The fundamental issue here is democracy: The people
eating the food or living in the environment that could be affected must
decide domestic policy, not some secretive WTO tribunal of three trade

Indeed, polling shows that a majority of Europeans and Americans want GMO
foods to be segregated from non-GMO foods and labeled so that consumers
have a choice. The science on the long-term health and environmental
effects of GMOs is incomplete, making limits on GMOs a prudent policy to
avoid possibly irreversible damage to public health or the environment.
Many U.S. laws, such as our drug approval process, also require the
manufacturer to prove a product safe before it is allowed on the market
(not that the government must prove it is dangerous).

Europeans who don't want to eat GMOs or fear GMO crops' environmental
threats have democratically enacted these values and passed a policy to
segregate and label food made with GMOs. The moratorium is an interim
measure while the individual E.U. countries debate implementation of that
policy. Because the Europeans apply these same rules domestically -- in
the same manner that they do to imports -- there is no trade
discrimination and thus there really is no trade issue here.

However, although there is no trade discrimination in this situation,
there is a viable WTO case to be made in attacking the E.U. GMO
moratorium. The WTO contains extensive subjective, value-oriented rules
constraining signatory countries' domestic food-safety policies that
limit the subject matter, level of protection and design of domestic food
safety policies. One such WTO rule puts the burden of proof on countries
seeking to regulate a product to show it is dangerous. This WTO rule
means that policies based on the Precautionary Principle -- that a
manufacturer must show a product safe over the long term before it goes
on the market -- are forbidden. The Bush administration today is putting
the interests of its agribusiness supporters over many of the values it
purports to seek for the world: democracy, accountability and openness.

The Bush administration, and before it, the Clinton administration, have
promised the American public that global trade deals will not and cannot
undermine domestic laws. Yet time and again this has proved false. Until
this GMO food challenge was launched, the focus this year had been on the
Bush administration's sneaky New Year's Eve attempt to dramatically
weaken the popular U.S. "dolphin-safe" tuna labeling regulation in the
name of complying with a trade ruling. Now Europeans are seeing GMOs
being forced down their throats by the powerful WTO dispute system.

                                  PART III
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TITLE:  United States Tries to Force-Feed Europeans with Biotech Crops
SOURCE: Food First, USA, Press Release
DATE:   May 13, 2003

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United States Tries to Force-Feed Europeans with Biotech Crops
Food First Denounces U.S. Suit in the World Trade Organization on
European Moratorium on Biotech Crops

(Oakland, CA)-Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy
denounces desperate efforts by the United States to force Europeans to
accept biotech crops by bringing a suit in the World Trade Organization.

"This is one more instance of the WTO being used to advance corporate
interests at the expense of the public interest," said Anuradha Mittal,
co-director of Food First.

In a statement released on May 13, the U.S. insists that biotech crops
will "be a great benefit to farmers and consumers," ignoring that GE
crops have been rejected by farmers and consumers around the world. Most
industrialized countries have imposed strict regulations limiting their
use. In the Third World, farm organizations have publicly come out
against agricultural biotech, challenging their loss of control over
seeds and food sovereignty, and the erosion of genetic diversity.

"This behavior reflects the United States' track record of disregarding
public opinion," said Mittal. "As biotech crops and food were snuck onto
our supermarket shelves, our regulatory agencies failed to inform
Americans, turning us into guinea pigs in the largest field test in
history. To date, no scientist can say with certainty that GE crops are
safe." The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) spends only 1 percent of
its biotech research budget on risk assessment. Instead, the U.S.
regulatory agencies rely on information provided by biotech companies.

Justifying its action at the WTO, the U.S. falsely asserts that GE crops
will alleviate hunger. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, claims
that "biotech food helps nourish the world's hungry population." In fact,
most GE crops are used as cattle feed to produce meat for consumers in
wealthy countries. Furthermore, the increased costs and risks associated
with GE crops destroy livelihoods of poor farmers in the Third World.

"For proponents of GE foods these are dark times, that have led Mr.
Zoellick to resort to poor washing," said Mittal, "Poor washing involves
a degree of official amnesia-forgetting that several Third World
countries have outright rejected GM food aid from the U.S."

Food First lauds the European Union for upholding the health and safety
of its citizens, for respecting public opinion, and calls for the U.S. to
follow the European Union's lead by imposing an immediate moratorium on
biotech crops in the U.S.


Contact: Nick Parker
(+1-510) 654-4400, ext 229