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9-Misc: WTO decision on EU GMO moratorium: U.S. media



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

TITLE:  World Trade Agency Rules for U.S. in Biotech Dispute
SOURCE: The New York Times, USA, by Andrew Pollack
        http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/08/business/worldbusiness/
08trade.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
DATE:   08 Feb 2006

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World Trade Agency Rules for U.S. in Biotech Dispute

The United States won a closely watched trade dispute yesterday when the
World Trade Organization ruled that the European Union breached
international rules by restricting imports of genetically modified crops
and food made from them.

The decision, which was not made public but was discussed by federal
trade officials, also represents a victory for the agricultural
biotechnology industry, which for years has been battling opposition to
its products from consumers and governments in Europe and some other
countries.

The ruling by a three-person panel at the Geneva-based trade body is not
expected to flood Europe with biotech foods. But American government and
industry officials said it would help discourage other countries from
adopting similar barriers and would set a precedent that countries must
have sound scientific reasons for rejecting genetically modified crops.
Some countries have feared they would lose exports to Europe if they
were to grow the crops.

"One of the reasons we brought the case was because of the chilling
effect the E.U.'s actions had on the adoption of biotechnology," a
United States trade official told reporters yesterday.

The official disclosed details of the case on the condition that he not
be identified because preliminary decisions by the W.T.O. are initially
confidential. He said he was commenting because parts of the decision
had already been leaked to news media.

Officials of the countries involved in the dispute were still trying to
digest the ruling, which American officials said was 800 pages, the
longest ruling in the organization's history.

The United States, joined by Canada and Argentina, filed a complaint
against the European Union in 2003, claiming that a moratorium on
approvals of genetically modified crops that Europe adopted in 1998
violated a food trade treaty that requires regulatory decisions to be
made without "undue delay" and to be based on science.

The three countries also complained that six European countries --
Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg -- violated trade
rules by banning even biotech crops that had been approved by the
European Commission.

Europe had argued that it did not have a moratorium but that it just
took time to weigh the possible risks to health and environment posed by
genetic engineering. It said it needed to take a "precautionary"
approach to regulation as opposed to Washington's "laissez-faire" stance.

The trade organization panel appears not to have challenged Europe's
regulatory process for biotech crops. Rather, it said Europe failed to
follow its own procedures, resulting in undue delay of decisions.

The panel ruled in favor of the United States regarding the bans by the
six countries. It also ruled in favor of the United States on 23 of 27
specific crops, according to L. Val Giddings, a biotechnology industry
consultant who said he had been briefed on the ruling.

Genetically modified crops, mainly corn, soybeans and cotton containing
bacterial genes that provide resistance to herbicides or insects, are
widely grown and consumed in the United States but rarely in Europe.

American biotechnology, food and agriculture groups hailed the ruling.

"This is a good, clear signal to the world that Europe was wrong," said
Leon Corzine, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association. He said
about $300 million a year in corn exports to Europe were lost as a
result of the moratorium.

But consumer and environmental groups opposed to biotech crops condemned
the finding.

"The World Trade Organization, with its secretive decision-making
processes, is unfit to decide what we should eat or what farmers should
grow," Alexandra Wandel, trade coordinator for Friends of the Earth
Europe, said in a statement.

Given that European consumers are still wary of the crops and foods made
from them, sales there are not expected to expand rapidly. Some experts
said the decision could even harden resistance to the foods.

"To the extent the issue has died down a little in Europe, it risks
bringing it to the forefront again," said Charlotte Hebebrand, president
of the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council, a group
based in Washington that supports open trade. Until Friday, Ms.
Hebebrand worked in the European Commission's Washington office.

Europe is expected to argue that the decision is moot because it resumed
approving biotech crops in 2004. But the American trade official said
that some applications filed in the 1990's had still not been approved.
Moreover, the recent approvals have generally been for importing crops,
not for growing them.

The decision could still be changed before it is made public, though
such an action is unusual. After the decision is made public, the
parties can appeal.

Europe could ignore the ruling and instead accept retaliatory tariffs on
some of its exports to the United States. Europe has still not opened
its market to beef raised on growth hormones, even though the United
States won a case at the trade organization in the late 1990's.


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

TITLE:  WTO Ruling Backs Biotech Crops
SOURCE: The Washington Post, USA, by Justin Gillis and Paul Blustein
        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/07/
AR2006020701184.html?nav=rss_business/government
DATE:   08 Feb 2006

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WTO Ruling Backs Biotech Crops
European Ban, Challenged by U.S and Allies, Violates Trade Regulations,
Panel Says

The World Trade Organization ruled yesterday that a six-year European
ban on genetically engineered crops violates international trade rules,
according to U.S. sources familiar with the ruling.

The widely expected ruling, though it will not be final until later this
year, appeared to be a symbolic victory for farmers and agricultural
companies in the United States, Canada and Argentina. The three
countries had challenged Europe's anti-biotechnology stance in the world
trade body in Geneva.

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the finding
is preliminary and confidential, said a panel at the trade body issued
its decision late yesterday, ruling in favor of the three countries on a
large majority of the 25 crops under dispute in the case while issuing
mixed rulings on a few crops. The panel also ruled in favor of the three
countries in challenging national bans on specific biotech crops issued
by Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg.

The ruling was welcomed by pro-biotechnology groups in the United
States, which had urged the Bush administration to file the case in
2003. Farm groups and biotech advocates are hoping the ruling will
soften European resistance to the crops and, even more important to
them, slow the spread of anti-biotech sentiment around the world.

"The decision was never really in doubt, but its global impact could be
huge," Gregory Conko, an analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute
in Washington, said in a written statement. "With the voice of the world
community now clearly on the record, we hope the Europeans will quickly
dismantle their bans and let science-based policy and consumer freedom
prevail."

How much practical effect the trade ruling will have remains to be seen,
though, as resistance to gene-altered crops remains high among European
consumers. Most European grocery chains refuse to stock products made
with genetically engineered ingredients. If European manufacturers did
produce foods with such ingredients, they would have to be specially
labeled, a policy that the United States condemns but hasn't yet
challenged in the trade body.

Past U.S. attempts to push biotech crops have provoked intense backlash
by European consumers, and some anti-biotech groups predicted that the
same thing would happen again as they assailed yesterday's ruling and
the trade case that led to it. Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade
Watch in Washington, part of a network of consumer groups founded by
Ralph Nader, denounced the WTO panel's application of "retrograde rules"
in an attempt "to force Frankenfoods on the rest of the world regardless
of what consumers and their elected representatives say."

Biotech crops first came to market in the United States in the
mid-1990s. The large majority of those developed so far have been
commercial failures, but a few developed by Monsanto Co., Syngenta AG
and other big agricultural firms have been runaway successes. They
include gene-altered varieties of corn, soybeans, cotton and canola.
Genes from other species have been inserted into these crops to allow
them to better resist weeds and insects. Some of the crops, notably
cotton, require substantially less chemical treatment and are seen by
their backers as having environmental benefits.

An overwhelming body of scientific opinion -- including regulators at
the European Food Safety Authority and scientific institutes in most
European countries -- holds that the crops are safe to eat and pose only
minor environmental risks. But European consumers were burned by food-
safety scandals in the 1990s involving dioxin-laced chickens, beef
capable of causing a fatal brain disease, and other disasters in which
they were initially assured that the foods were safe. Their trust in the
opinion of European, much less American, scientists on such matters is low.

Controversy over the U.S.-led movement toward planting biotech crops
exploded in Europe in 1998. Several crops had been approved by then and
the United States still sells tons of such crops to Europe every year,
but the European Union stalled new approvals for six years, from 1998 to
2004. Six countries issued national bans even on crops that had already
received Europe-wide approval.

It was those actions that the United States and its allies challenged,
citing WTO rules that say new products must be considered expeditiously
and can be banned only on sound scientific grounds.

European regulators contend that even if the rules the United States
challenged amounted to an illegal moratorium, the European ban was
effectively lifted by a stringent new regulatory framework that took
effect in 2004. The trade panel "has recognized that the alleged
moratorium has ceased to exist," a European Commission official said
last night. "Our sense is, it's a mixed bag. In some respects, the panel
is upholding our positions."

The United States acknowledges that Europe, under the 2004 rules,
appears to have lifted its moratorium, at least technically, and is now
moving forward in considering biotech crops. But the United States
contends that the process is still too slow and the regulatory standards
are unreasonable given that the crops, which Europeans refer to as
genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, pose few risks.

"The U.S. appears not to like the E.U. authorization regime, which it
considers to be too stringent, simply because it takes longer to approve
a GMO in Europe than in the U.S.." the European Union said in a briefing
document. "The U.S. appears to believe that GMOs that are considered to
be safe in the U.S. should be de facto deemed to be safe for the rest of
the world."

In practice, Spain is the only European country growing any significant
amounts of biotech crops. Virtually no foods containing such ingredients
appear on European grocery shelves, and some applications to allow such
crops have been pending in Europe for a decade.

"When you have products that are still languishing from the mid-1990s,
obviously we think there's a problem that has to be addressed," a U.S.
trade official said late yesterday.


                                 PART III
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Genetically modified foods get boost
SOURCE: Associated Press, by Sam Cage / Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, USA
        http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/business/stories.nsf/story/
58D368F3669014DA8625710F001D52A2?OpenDocument
DATE:   07 Feb 2006

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Genetically modified foods get boost

GENEVA - The World Trade Organization has ruled that the European Union
broke international trade rules by stopping imports of genetically
modified foods, officials said Tuesday.

The preliminary judgment of a WTO panel concluded that the EU imposed a
de facto ban on biotech foods for six years starting in 1998, said the
officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report is
confidential.

The ruling sided with a complaint brought by the United States, Canada
and Argentina that challenged an EU freeze on approval of new biotech
foods, the officials said.

Monsanto Co., which has its headquarters in Creve Coeur, Mo., sold the
world's first commercial biotech crops a decade ago and is by far the
biggest purveyor of seeds genetically modified to withstand harmful
pests and glyphosate herbicide, which it sells as Roundup.

The WTO panel ruled that individual bans in six EU member states -
Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg - violated
international trade rules.

The EU and United States declined to comment as diplomats were studying
the details late Tuesday. The ruling - said to be one of the most
complex the commerce body has issued - runs to about 1,000 pages. It was
delayed several times.

The U.S., Canada and Argentina claim that there is no scientific basis
for the EU's actions and that the freeze has been an unfair barrier to
producers of biotech foods that want to export to the EU.

An environmental group, Friends of the Earth, says the case undermines
the right of governments to decide for themselves what is safe for their
citizens, and pressures other countries to accept genetically modified
foods against their will.

The EU ended its freeze in 2004, when it allowed into the market a
modified strain of sweet corn, grown mainly in the United States.
Washington has said it will continue with its WTO case until it is
convinced that all applications for approval are being decided on
scientific rather than political grounds.

Monsanto spokesman Chris Horner said the company has yet to see the
ruling, so it is premature to speculate on what it might mean. "We need
to assess what this decision is ... and what the implications are for
our business," he said.

Tom West, vice president of biotechnology affairs at seed company
Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., said the decision "reinforces the
heart and soul of what WTO is all about."

The EU freeze limited choices for U.S. and European farmers, as well as
European consumers, West said. Iowa-based Pioneer supplies seed and
other grain products in nearly 70 countries.

The ruling is good news not so much because it will open the door to
more European customers for U.S. businesses, but because it will set an
example for other world markets, said Leon Corzine, chairman of the
National Corn Grower's Association, based in Chesterfield, Mo.

That could be good news for Monsanto Co., which wants to expand its
customer base worldwide largely because it already dominates the U.S.
market, according to a report from analyst Kevin McCarthy with Banc of
America Securities.

Selling biotech seeds could account for 80 percent of Monsanto's profit
in 2006, according to McCarthy's report. Increasing acceptance of the
crops worldwide could be a major lift to Monsanto's bottom line, he said.

In 2005, seeds with Monsanto's genetic traits were planted on nearly 195
million acres around the globe, the company said. The company reported
revenue of more than $6 billion, with more than half of it linked to
sales of its seeds and genetic traits.

Still, Monsanto has been largely unable to crack the European market
because of the EU's de facto ban.

Monsanto has about 16,500 employees; many are scientists based in the
St. Louis metro area. Its presence has been a magnet for startup
companies and research in agricultural biotechnology.

Monsanto has said its future depends on continued success in biotech
seeds and traits as sales of its flagship Roundup herbicide have
declined steadily since the product lost patent protection.

Rachel Melcer of the Post-Dispatch as well as Christopher Leonard and
Carol Ann Riha of The Associated Press contributed to this report.


                                 PART IV
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  WTO Rules Against EU's Biotech-Seed Rules, U.S. Says (Update2)
SOURCE: Bloomberg, USA, by Warren Giles & Mark Drajem
        http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000086&sid=aBm7iVxHTAmY
DATE:   08 Feb 2006

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WTO Rules Against EU's Biotech-Seed Rules, U.S. Says (Update2)

Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- The World Trade Organization ruled that the
European Union unfairly blocked imports of genetically engineered crops,
U.S. and EU trade officials said. The decision may break down barriers
to the global spread of biotech foods.

Trade regulators sided with the U.S., Canada and Argentina, saying the
EU shut its market to biotech seeds from producers such as Monsanto Co.
without adequate scientific evidence of their harm, the officials said.
The WTO declined to comment on the confidential preliminary ruling.

U.S. industry groups say EU curbs cost their exporters $300 million a
year in lost sales in a $5.5 billion global biotech market. The EU,
which grows less than 1 percent of the world's gene-modified crops,
banned biotech foods for six years until 2004.

"One of the main reasons to bring the case was to prevent the loss of
other important markets" for U.S. agriculture exports, Michelle Gorman,
director of regulatory relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation
in Washington, said late yesterday after the ruling by the Geneva-based WTO.

European governments such as Germany and France, as well as activists
such as Greenpeace International, say the crops threaten human health
and the environment. The U.S. insists that the seeds are as safe as
conventional seeds.


'We Were Bad'

The European Commission says new laws since 2004 allow biotech seeds to
be planted, traced and labeled, and points to more than 30 gene-altered
products approved for marketing in the bloc. The EU's executive blames
national governments including France and Austria for continuing to
obstruct new approvals.

Since the WTO report only considered rules up until 2003, the EU "may
essentially say, `We were bad, but we're good now,'" said Kyd Brenner, a
partner at the agriculture research firm DTB Associates in Washington.

The WTO decision "clearly indicates that the current regulatory system
on GMOs is compatible with WTO rules and is one of the safest frameworks
in the world," commission spokeswoman Barbara Helfferich said today.

The U.S. argued that the EU's approval process for imports of biotech
foods had "unnecessary delays" resulting in a trade barrier. The EU said
popular opposition meant consumers were already avoiding gene foods, and
that its rules were designed to protect health and safety.

More than half of the region's 450 million consumers consider gene-
engineered foods to be dangerous, according to an EU poll in June.


Scientific Evidence

"Agricultural biotechnology products should be provided a timely,
transparent and scientific review" by the EU, U.S. Trade Representative
Rob Portman said in a statement in Washington late yesterday.

The 1,047-page WTO decision also condemns bans on marketing and
releasing genetically modified organisms into the environment such as
those imposed by Germany, France, Austria and Greece, said the officials.

The refusal of those governments to approve new seeds prompted the EU's
governing body to begin a moratorium in 1998 on imports of genetically
modified food. The EU in 2004 adopted new procedures that now allow some
gene-altered food imports.

Still, U.S. farm groups say that since imports resumed in 2004, the
commission has approved just three varieties, including Monsanto's
MON863 corn, which means a de facto ban is still in effect.


Greenpeace

"U.S. agro-chemical giants will not sell a bushel more of their GM grain
as a result of the WTO ruling," Daniel Mittler, a Greenpeace trade
adviser, said in a statement. Opposition to the crops by consumers,
farmers and governments "will not change, in Europe or globally," he said.

The planting of altered seeds rose to 90 million hectares in 2005 from
1.7 million worldwide since initial commercialization in 1996, industry
groups estimate, as farmers seek more reliable harvests. The U.S.
accounts for about 55 percent of that total.

The WTO ruling may set a precedent for other nations ranging from India
to Japan to Russia that have regulations stipulating the labeling of
foods with genetically modified ingredients.


Safety First

The case is a test for the EU's "better-safe-than-sorry" food policy,
known as the precautionary principle, which has kept hormone-treated
beef from the U.S. and Canada out of the EU even though the WTO ruled in
1998 that the EU hadn't scientifically proven a cancer risk to consumers
from the treatments.

The EU has been paying $126 million a year in sanctions as a result and
is working to get the retaliatory duties lifted on the grounds that it
now has enough evidence. This case could be much larger than that one.

The WTO decision will now be reviewed by the parties of the case, who
can comment on it before it is formally issued by the WTO panel. Either
side can then appeal. Only after the appeal is completed would the U.S.
be able to petition to get the EU to change its procedures or impose
trade sanctions.


                                 PART V
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  GMO Ruling Delights US Farmers but Hurdles Remain
SOURCE: Reuters, by Sophie Walker
DATE:   08 Feb 2006

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GMO Ruling Delights US Farmers but Hurdles Remain

WASHINGTON - American farm groups roundly cheered a ruling on Tuesday
which condemned Europe for holding out against genetically modified
foods and crops, saying it would serve as warning to other nations and
help US exports.

The World Trade Organization ruled that the European Union applied a
moratorium on approving genetically modified organisms (GMO's) in
violation of trade rules, diplomats said.
In a preliminary decision, the WTO also ruled that six individual states
- France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Luxembourg and Greece - broke the
rules by applying their own bans on marketing and importing GMO's.

"We're very pleased. It really helps answer a lot of questions in the
world trade environment," said Len Corzine, president of the National
Corn Growers Association.

"We don't expect the EU to become big importers of US corn, but it cast
a big shadow across other nations. This is a message to the world that
(we) won't put up with the EU violating the rules."

The United States, Canada and Argentina brought the WTO complaint
against the EU, arguing that its moratorium on GMO approvals hurt their
exports and was not based on science.

"It shows that science has prevailed, which is a good step forward,
and ... is going to prevent other countries from undertaking a similar
kind of moratorium," said Michelle Gorman, director of regulatory
relations at the American Farm Bureau.

"There will be some relief for trade," said Gorman, adding that she had
not seen the 1,000-page report, which US administration officials and
lawyers were still poring over.


EXPORTS BLOCKED

The European Union's action effectively blocked up to $300 million of US
agricultural exports annually, said Sean Darragh, executive vice
president for food and agriculture at the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

The ruling sends a strong message to other countries considering their
own regulations regarding biotech crops, said one industry source with
government experience.

"It will be a valuable case for the US government in protecting the
rights of its exporters around the world - there will be an immediate
impact on the regulatory environment of biotech," the source said.

"It would have been bad news for the US if it had lost because biotech
regulations are in a state of flux around the world. This shows that WTO
rules apply and that countries have to operate science-based regulating
principles."

But few farmers will be holding their breath for immediate results, be
they material changes in EU regulations or new shipments of US crops.

Several sources said they expected the EU to appeal, and added that the
unwinding of its current system was more complicated than just opening
up the pipelines for more GMO applications.

"EU regulations are more complex than the moratorium - there's also
traceability and labeling regulations," said Gorman at the American Farm
Bureau.

And regardless of the ruling, there are still differences of opinion
between US and EU consumers that American farmers have to overcome, one
expert noted. European Union consumers are much more wary of genetically
modified foods.

"The outcome here is a victory for the principles of international
trade ... but part of the opposition to the food is not strictly about
the safety of the foods," said Calestous Juma, professor of
international development at Harvard University.

"There are some deeper ... differences between the EU and the United States."

(Additional reporting by Mark Weinraub in Chicago)


                                 PART VI
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  WTO May Reject EU Biotech Policy in 'Bellwether' Case (Update1)
SOURCE: Bloomberg, USA, by Warren Giles
        http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?
pid=10000082&refer=canada&sid=aQFfA2vlXrNw
DATE:   06 Feb 2006

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


WTO May Reject EU Biotech Policy in 'Bellwether' Case (Update1)

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- World Trade Organization judges may decide
tomorrow that the European Union illegally keeps genetically engineered
seeds by Monsanto Co. and DuPont Co. off shelves and out of fields.

The confidential ruling isn't likely to force open the European market,
where some governments are already fighting EU- wide rules. Still, it's
being closely watched by countries such as India, Japan, China and
Australia for clues about how the WTO views rules that distinguish
modified from traditional crops.

"This will be the bellwether case throughout the world of how
biotechnology is going to be regulated," said Christian Verschueren,
director general of CropLife International of Brussels, which represents
companies such as Monsanto. "Other governments will be watching, and
hopefully this will send a strong signal that measures have to be based
on science."

The WTO ruling stems from a 2003 complaint about EU policies by the
three of the biggest biotech crop growers, the U.S., Argentina and
Canada. The judgment, initially scheduled for March 2005, has been
delayed six times and is expected to contain several hundred pages of
analysis.

With 98 million hectares (242 million acres) under arable production in
the EU, second only to the U.S., the 25 nations grow less than 1 percent
of the world's genetically modified crops. Global biotech sales in 2006
will amount to $5.5 billion.


Deemed 'Dangerous'

The European Commission, the EU's executive, says new laws since 2004
already allow the products to be planted, traced and labeled. It blames
the some EU governments for continuing to block approvals against a
background where more than half of the EU's 450 million consumers are
convinced gene-engineered foods are ``dangerous,'' according to an EU
poll in June.

The commission has separate cases under way against Austria, France,
Luxembourg and Germany for refusing to lift bans on gene-altered
products, including Basel, Switzerland- based Syngenta AG's Bt11 pest-
resistant corn.

At stake is the future of the crops in China, India, Brazil, Indonesia,
Japan, Russia, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia, which all have
regulations stipulating strict consumer labeling of goods containing bio-
engineered ingredients, says the Washington-based Center for Food
Safety, which campaigns for labeling and testing of the food technology.

Switzerland, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Bolivia, Algeria, Ghana, Benin,
Zambia and Georgia are among countries that have banned planting of
genetically engineered crops.


Precautionary Principle

The case is also a test for the EU's "better-safe-than- sorry" food
policy known as the precautionary principle.

That philosophy has kept hormone-treated beef from the U.S. and Canada
out of the EU even after the WTO ruled in 1998 that the bloc hadn't
scientifically proven a cancer risk to consumers from the treatments.
The EU has been paying $126 million a year in sanctions as a result and
is working to get the retaliatory duties lifted on the grounds that it
now has enough evidence.

GM varieties are engineered to resist specific herbicides or pesticides,
letting a farmer spray his field with products that kill everything
except his crop. Some have genes that act as insecticides, prevent
fungal growth or withstand drought.

Advocates say the technology boosts yields and cuts the number of times
chemicals must be sprayed, meaning the soil is less compacted and
limiting rainwater run-off and erosion.

The U.S. accounted for 55 percent of the global area planted to biotech
crops last year, or 49.8 million hectares, Argentina 19 percent and
Canada 6 percent, according to the International Service for the
Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications. Brazil became the third-
biggest grower last year with just over 10 percent of the total area and
worldwide, sowings rose 11 percent to 90 million hectares.


Benefits?

Opponents say there are no proven health or environmental benefits to GM
crops. They argue that they're no cheaper, nor have they helped
alleviate hunger in Africa, because the crops are mostly for animal
feed. They also say that engineered genes can't be contained, once
released into the environment,

The crops have increased the use of herbicides and pesticides over the
last decade, environmental group Friends of the Earth says, and have
contributed to deforestation and soil erosion.

"The biggest worry for the WTO case is the signal it sends beyond the
EU's borders, because developing countries may not even bother to try to
put a legislative regime in place," said Clare Oxborrow, a campaigner
against biotech crops for Friends of the Earth in London.


Lack of Unity

The EU halted gene-engineered product approvals in 1998 to review its
practices. Since the system resumed in 2004, the commission has approved
just three varieties, including Monsanto's MON863 corn, for import.
Because there's no majority among EU governments either to approve or
dismiss new approvals, the commission can make decisions unilaterally.

EU governments have given no new permission to plant modified crops
since 1998 and 27 applications for approval of gene-altered feed and
food by companies such as Bayer AG and Monsanto are pending in the EU process.

A GM corn variety developed by Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont Co.,
the third-largest U.S. chemical maker, and Midland, Michigan-based Dow
Chemical Co., the country's biggest, are pending final approval.

In August, the commission gave Monsanto, the world's No. 1 developer of
biotech crops, a 10-year authorization to import a rapeseed known as
GT73 that resists one of the St. Louis-based company's herbicides. It
also approved three kinds of Monsanto corn on Jan. 13, two for food and
one for animal feed.


Shockwaves

In the meantime, Austria is appealing a European Court of Justice ruling
against the country's planting ban and Greece is resisting a commission
order to allow Monsanto's MON810 corn, approved before 1998, for sowing.

Unless the EU wins the WTO case, "the shockwaves will be global," said
the Trans-Atlantic Consumer Dialogue, an EU-U.S. consumer alliance that
advocates labeling and testing of GM products.

The U.S. may win the battle "but it is losing the war," said Rhoda
Karpatkin, who represents the Washington-based U.S. Consumers Union. A
WTO victory for the U.S. will increase consumer mistrust of the
technology, she said, and "can be seen as a preemptive effort to chill"
policies for regulating GMOs.


--


GENET
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinäckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig
Germany

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