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6-Regulation: Consumer Council of Norway supports supports EUagainst WTO challenge

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TITLE:  The Consumer Council of Norway support the EU in the dispute on
        GM food
SOURCE: Consumer Council of Norway, Press Release
DATE:   May 19, 2003

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The Consumer Council of Norway support the EU in the dispute on GM food

The Consumer Council of Norway urges the Norwegian Government to activily
support the European Commission in the dispute on gene modified food,
which the US recently initiated under the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

OSLO, May 19, 2003 - The US must recognise legislation on gene modified
food which inkludes both sufficient risk assessments, traceability and
labelling, before European consumers accept to reopen the European market
for new gene modified products, says the director of the Consumer Council
Erik Lund-Isaksen.

Today, the Consumer Council sends a joint letter to the Norwegian
authorities, the Embassy of the US in Norway, and to the embassies of the
other US supporting countries in the case against the EU.

The letter communicates our points of view to the US and the other
countries. We also urge Norwegian authorities to activily support the
European Commission in this case, says Erik Lund-Isaksen.

The US against the EU In our view the use of WTO is an unreasonable
pressure from the US, only driven by economic considerations. The US
government fight for the trade and economic interests of the biotech
companies and the american farmes who grow GMOs.

BEUC debate

Lund-Isaksen did recently participate in a debate about this in BEUC -
the European Consumers' Organisation, where the criticism was strong
against US' complaint against EU to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Consumer organisations both in the US and in the EU do therefore come
forth with support to the view of the European Commission in this trade
battle on the gene modified food.

David Byrne, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer protection,
emphasises that it is the European consumers themselves who are sceptical
to gene modified food. People do not want to buy something they do not
trust. Unless consumers see that the authorisation process is up to date
and takes into account all legitimate concerns, the Europeans will
continue to remain sceptical of GM products, he says.

The Consumer Council supports EU EU's attitude is a proof on respect for
the consumer rights, says Lund-Isaksen. The Consumer Council has read
through the answer from the European Commission to the US of May 13, and
gives a fully support to the main points.

The US claim about the safety of gene modified food, is without any
foundation. The Consumer Council has near contact with norwegian experts.
They have asked for more test and further documentations several times
from a biotech company in regard to three concrete applications for
authorisation in Norway, without receiving it. The fact is that that the
food is not widely eaten outside the US. Since it is not labelled in the
US, they would not know if there are any adverse effects unless they were
extremely serious.

The US have not yet signed the Convention on Biological Diversity, and
they are therefore not able to sigh the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
either. The Cartagena Protocol regulates trade with GMO's between countries.

By these reasons US should not bring this case to the WTO, but have more
respect to both EU and other countries rigth to spend as much time as
appropriate to build up a holistic legislative framework that is
necessary. We urge the US to withdraw this challenge immediately, says
Erik Lund-Isaksen.

Five EU Member States introduced the "de facto" moratorium on gene
modified food in 1999, because consumer and environmental organisatoins
were against the introduction of the use of gene modified organisms in
the food production before sufficient legislation was in place.

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Read the letter from the Consumer Council of Norway to the US Embassy,
the Norwegian Government and other foreign embassies in Norway;
"Concerning US' WTO case aganist EU moratorium on GMO" of 19 May 2003, on