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6-Regulation: WTO Panel postpones its ruling on the EU GMO case



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

TITLE:  EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES - MEASURES AFFECTING THE APPROVAL AND
        MARKETING OF BIOTECH PRODUCTS
        Communication from the Chairman of the Panel
SOURCE: World Trade Organization
        http://docsonline.wto.org/GEN_viewerwindow.asp?D:/DDFDOCUMENTS/
        T/WT/DS/293-19.DOC.HTM
DATE:   14 Jul 2004

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EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES - MEASURES AFFECTING THE APPROVAL AND MARKETING OF
BIOTECH PRODUCTS

Communication from the Chairman of the Panel

The following communication, dated 12 July 2004, addressed to the Dispute
Settlement Body (DSB), is circulated in accordance with Article 12.9 of
the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU).

Article 12.8 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the
Settlement of Disputes (DSU) provides that the period in which a panel
shall conduct its examination, from the date that the composition and
terms of reference of the panel have been agreed upon until the date the
final report is issued to the parties to the dispute, shall, as a general
rule, not exceed six months.

Article 12.9 of the DSU provides that when a panel considers that it
cannot issue its report within six months, it shall inform the Dispute
Settlement Body (DSB) in writing of the reasons for the delay together
with an estimate of the period within which it will issue its report.

The Panel in European Communities - Measures Affecting the Approval and
Marketing of Biotech Products (WT/DS291, WT/DS292 and WT/DS293) was
established by the DSB on 29 August 2003 and composed on 4 March 2004.

Due, inter alia, to the parties' common request for additional time to
prepare their rebuttals, the Panel will not be able to complete its work
in six months. In view of the substantial amount of documentation
submitted as well as certain outstanding procedural issues, the Panel is
not in a position, at this time, to provide an estimate of the period
within which it will issue its report. The Panel will provide the DSB
with such an estimate as soon as possible, most likely before the end of
August 2004.


                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  WTO dispute continues despite the end of the EU's de facto
        moratorium
SOURCE: Mondaq, by Iciar Chavarri, posted by checkbiotech.org/Syngenta
        http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=newsletter&
        topic_id=5&subtopic_id=25&doc_id=8176
DATE:   14 Jul 2004

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WTO dispute continues despite the end of the EUs de facto moratorium

The European Commission authorised on 19 May 2004 the placing on the
market of Syngenta's Bt11 genetically modified maize. However, despite
this decision the dispute brought before the World Trade Organization
(WTO), by Argentina, Canada and the US against the EU's de facto
moratorium on the approval of genetically modified organisms is still in
place and the Dispute Panel review continues as planned. The parties have
already presented their first submissions and participated on 2 June in
the first Panel hearing [GENET/HM: minutes not available yet].

Two independent groups acting in the public interest are intervening in
the dispute settlement process by making submissions to the WTO Dispute
Panel in the form of amicus curiae (or "friend of the court") briefs.
While third parties can file "amicus curiae" there is no obligation on
the Panel to take their views into account. One of the amicus curiae has
been submitted by a trans-Atlantic group of expert academics and the
other one by an international coalition of 15 public interest groups from
Europe, the US, Canada, Argentina, Chile and India. The coalition of
interest groups claims the WTO should reject the challenge and recognise
the legitimate role of the EC and individual countries to establish
appropriate mechanisms to make decisions about the desirability of GMOs.
The coalition of scholars believes the role of the WTO Panel should be
one of reviewing the procedural adequacy of executive decision-making
processes in the various jurisdictions involved, rather than one of
arbitrating on the substantive merits of the individual risk assessments
themselves. The ruling of the WTO Panel is expected in early September.

While it has been claimed that the approval of the Bt11 GM maize ends the
EU's de facto moratorium, it does not imply that the WTO dispute is or
should be terminated. The WTO proceedings can be terminated either by (i)
the complainants request to suspend the proceedings or (ii) the parties
notification to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body that they have reached a
mutually satisfactory solution which puts an end to the dispute.

It is very likely that the complainants will proceed cautiously at first
and that they will not request the suspension or termination of the
proceedings until there are clear indications from the EU Member States
and European Commission that the requests for GMO authorisations which
are currently in the pipe-line will receive a positive response, meaning
that they will be able to be marketed in the EU.




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