GENET archive


9-Misc: WTO delays ruling in GMO dispute until next week

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  WTO Delays Ruling in GMO Dispute until Next Week
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   31 Jan 2006

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WTO Delays Ruling in GMO Dispute until Next Week

GENEVA - the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has again delayed a ruling,
due on Wednesday, in a closely watched dispute over the European Union's
policy on genetically modified foods and crops (GMO), diplomats said on
Monday. They said the preliminary decision in a row pitting the EU
against the United States, Canada and Argentina was now expected on
February 7. "They have told us that it will not be out on Wednesday,"
said one diplomat from a country involved. In 2004, Brussels officially
ended a 6-year embargo on biotech crops and foods to allow some imports.
But its opponents in the case say that EU states are still restricting
entry of GMO's, and in some cases banning them. Growers in Argentina,
Canada and the United States say the EU stance limits their right to
trade and the policy is not scientifically based, as WTO rules demand.
Trade sources said the ruling in the complex case is going to be one of
the longest ever issued by the Geneva-based trade watchdog, with the
text running to several hundred pages.

                                 PART II
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TITLE:  Greens protest against relaxing GM crop ban
SOURCE: Hungariann News Agency
DATE:   28 Jan 2006

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Greens protest against relaxing GM crop ban

Budapest, January 28 (MTI) - Hundreds of people protested against
allowing production of genetically modified (GM) crops in Hungary in a
demonstration in front of Parliament on Saturday, MTI learnt.
Demonstrators called for the government to keep all bans on GM crops in
place until comprehensive testing on health hazards are completed, said
Peter Kajner, a member of the green party Live Chain (Elolanc). Party
activists have collected more than 12,000 signatures in an anti-GM crop
petition over the past month, which Krajner presented to House Speaker
Katalin Szili, Farm Minister Jozsef Graf and Minister of the Prime
Minister's Office Peter Kiss. Parliament is preparing to amend
legislation on GM crop farming, which would lift some of the
restrictions, Krajner said. More lenient laws would hurt grain exports,
as genetically altered crops are unwelcome on EU markets, he added. "We
want the strictest laws possible against GM crop farming," said Andras
Lanyi, a member of the Live Chain presidium.

                                 PART III
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TITLE:  WTO Ruling on U.S. vs. EU GMO Foods Dispute Due Out February 1
SOURCE: Agence France-Presse
DATE:   27 Jan 2006

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WTO Ruling on U.S. vs. EU GMO Foods Dispute Due Out February 1

Agence France-Presse English Wire via NewsEdge Corporation : WASHINGTON
- The United States expects the WTO to issue its biggest-ever
arbitration report next week on a US-led complaint against the European
Union over biotech foods, officials said Thursday. The preliminary
report of the World Trade Organisation in the long-running genetically
modified (GM) foods case is set to be issued on Wednesday, a US trade
official said. "We believe we've presented a strong case," he told
reporters on condition of anonymity. Explaining numerous delays in the
report's publication, the official said: "They've told us it'll be the
longest report in the history of the WTO system. It'll be hundreds and
hundreds of pages." Argentina, Canada and the United States brought the
complaint before the WTO in May 2003, stating that an EU moratorium on
GM foods was more about business protectionism than concerns about the
health of consumers or the environment. The EU moratorium was lifted in
May 2004, but the three countries did not withdraw their complaint
because they claim EU member states continue to block the import and
cultivation of biotech foods. "The obligations are to allow every (GM)
application to be reviewed under science and to be processed without
undue delay. Right now, Europe's just not doing that," the US official
said. "The United States is not telling European consumers what products
to eat. Europe has to meet its obligations to follow its own approval
procedures. European consumers have the decision whether or not to buy
them," he added.

                                 PART IV
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TITLE:  WTO ruling set to launch EU debate on GM
SOURCE: EUPolitix, by Brian Johnson
DATE:   27 Jan 2006

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WTO ruling set to launch EU debate on GM

A WTO ruling on GM crop imports is set to increase the pressure on
Brussels to review its complex approvals procedures.

After a series of delays, a preliminary decision by the Geneva based WTO
arbitration panel is expected to be announced on February 1.

The challenge was brought in 2003 by the US, Canada and Argentina, who
complained that the EU was blocking the import and cultivation of GM crops.

US officials believe the EU's laissez faire approach effectively masks
trade barriers that protect European farmers from cheaper imports.

Washington argues that their producers are losing out to the tune of
several hundred million dollars each year.

The US is confident of a successful result next week, but European
commission sources say any victory will be hollow, as the EU has already
lifted a self imposed GM import moratorium in 2004 and now has a clear
set of GM crop approvals procedures.

"We have legislation in place; approval procedures are working and we're
not going to change that," a commission source told EUpolitix.

"Our scientific assessment and approvals system is in place now, it
works well, and we have seen that recently, with more GM products being

But the rosy picture painted by the commission can't hide the deep
divisions on GM across EU capitals.

Current EU presidency holders Austria head a group of member states
including Greece and Luxembourg that vehemently oppose GM crops.

Division in the EU council of ministers effectively blocks any agreement
by national governments whenever a GM product comes up for review.

This leaves the commission, through a complex default procedure to
'rubber stamp' authorisations on the member states' behalf.

Only a handful of GM authorisations have been approved, adding to US
sentiment that Europe is dragging its feet.

Earlier this month, EU diplomats warned that pressure was building on
the commission to overhaul the faltering approvals system.

The Austrians have made GM one of their top political priorities during
their six month presidency stint.

A presidency organised conference in April, looking at the coexistence
of GM and conventional crops, could set the stage for a much more
substantial EU debate on GM if the US is successful in the preliminary
WTO ruling.

A final WTO decision is expected by the end of 2006.


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