GENET archive


9-Misc: EU denies had GMO moratorium, no appeal cecision

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  EU Denies had GMO Moratorium, no Appeal Decision
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   09 Feb 2006

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EU Denies had GMO Moratorium, no Appeal Decision

BRUSSELS - The European Union contests it had a moratorium on imports of
genetically modified (GMO) crops and foods but it is too early to say
whether it will appeal against a world trade ruling on its stance, an EU
official said. The World Trade Organization ruled late on Tuesday that
the EU and six member states broke trade rules by barring entry to GMO
products between June 1999 and August 2003, according to diplomats who
saw the report.
"We dispute that a moratorium existed and contest the claim that delays
(in approving imports of GMO's) were excessive," the official told
reporters on Wednesday on condition of anonymity. "The system is
working, the science is sound. GMO imports to the EU are rising," he
said. "The panel seems to have finally put an end to the false claim
that the EU has a ban on GM products." "Our experts will now look into
the findings. We are not even talking about an appeal at this time. It
is only an interim report," another EU official said.
 EU experts had spent all night analysing the 1,050-page report - the
longest in the WTO's history - and were still doing so. A final WTO
ruling is expected in April. "We may or may not decide to appeal," she said.

                                 PART II
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TITLE:  FACTBOX - Key Findings in WTO Ruling on GMO's
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   09 Feb 2006

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FACTBOX - Key Findings in WTO Ruling on GMO's

GENEVA - European states have reacted with defiance to a World Trade
Organisation (WTO) ruling against the European Union and six member
countries over genetically modified foods and crops (GMO).

The confidential verdict, declaring a past EU moratorium and current
bans by six member states illegal, was sent on Tuesday to the EU and the
three WTO member countries that brought the trade complaint - Argentina,
Canada and the United States.
Here are some of the main conclusions of the panel of WTO judges,
according to a copy of the findings obtained on Wednesday by Reuters:

- The panel found that the EU operated a de facto moratorium on
considering new GMO imports between June 1999 and Aug. 29, 2003. This
moratorium resulted in a failure to complete "approval procedures
without undue delay" and so violated WTO rules.

- But as the moratorium has since been lifted, the panel made no
recommendations for action.

- Separately, it also found that undue delay existed in 24 of the 27
individual product applications on which the three complainants had
sought a ruling.

- It asked the WTO's dispute settlement body to request the EU to bring
the measures into line with the rules. But according to trade sources,
virtually all of these products have either since been approved or their
applications withdrawn.

- The judges also found that bans imposed by six EU states - France,
Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Italy and Belgium - on products already
approved by the EU violated trade rules and need to be revised.

- The individual states had failed to provide adequate scientific
evidence of the risks to human health or the environment.

- But the panel made no overall assessment of whether biotech products
are generally safe or not.

                                 PART III
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TITLE:  Now, Will Europe Swallow Frankenfoods?
SOURCE: Business Week, USA, by Kerry Capell
DATE:   08 Feb 2006

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Now, Will Europe Swallow Frankenfoods?

Probably not, even though the U.S. has won a major victory in the WTO
over genetically modified food exports
Chalk one up for the U.S. On Feb. 7, the World Trade Organization ruled
against the European Union in a dispute over import restrictions on
genetically modified (GM) crops and foods. The preliminary ruling is
hailed as a major win for the U.S. government, farmers, and the biotech
industry. But across the Atlantic, the victory is seen as a pyrrhic one
unlikely to erase European consumers' longstanding aversion to what the
local press has dubbed Frankenfoods.

The long-simmering dispute centers on a 2003 complaint brought by the
U.S., Canada, and Argentina, all major producers of GM crops. These
countries claimed that the EU's six-year de-facto ban on GM products,
beginning in 1998, constituted an unfair trade barrier with no
scientific justification. Although the EU began allowing imports of GM
products in 2004 on a case-by-case basis, individual European countries
have reserved the right to ban GM products that already have been given
the green light by Brussels. The EU, which grows less than 1% of the
world's gene-modified crops, says it has approved more than 30 GM food
and animal products since 1994.


The U.S. charges that the EU's current approval system, which calls for
detailed labeling and traceability requirements, is slow and unworkable.
Brussels says it's simply responding to consumer concerns and ensuring
that GM products are safe. "Europe's decision to halt GM approvals [in
1998] wasn't about erecting barriers to trade," says Sue Mayer, director
of GeneWatch UK, a nonprofit group that monitors genetic technologies.
"It was about responding to public concern in order to have better rules
and scientific knowledge."

American farmers and industry giants such as Monsanto (MON ) charge that
Europe's resistance to GM has cost them hundreds of millions a year in
lost sales in a global market worth $5.5 billion. The U.S. hopes that
the new ruling from the world's trade court will reverse the trend. At a
Feb. 8 press conference in Brussels, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative
Susan Schwab said the WTO decision is likely to lead to a change in the
EU's attitude toward GM products that will be result in greater imports.

That may be wishful thinking. A 2005 Eurobarometer poll showed 54% of
European consumers think GM food is dangerous. And many major
supermarket chains across Europe no longer sell GM products. Britain's
Unilever (UN ) and Cadbury-Schweppes (CSG ), along with Switzerland's
Nestlé, stopped using GM ingredients in their products years ago in the
face of growing consumer opposition. "The U.S. effort to force GM foods
upon unwilling consumers is offensive and misguided," Jim Murray of the
European consumer organization BEUC said in a statement.


Americans, who have been chowing down on GM-derived foods for years, say
European concerns over safety are unwarranted. It's a sentiment echoed
by EuropaBio, the EU association for bioindustries, which maintains that
no scientific evidence indicates GM products are anything but safe.

But many Europeans remain sceptical. After all they have experienced
numerous scares in recent years that sensitized the population to the
hidden dangers lurking in their food supply such as mad cow, dioxin-
infested chicken, and hormone-laden beef. There's also the perception
that the U.S. is trying to bully Europeans in order to boost America's
thriving biotech industry. "European safeguards" are being "sacrificed
to benefit biotech corporations," claimed environmental group Friends of
the Earth Europe in a statement.

The U.S. views Europe's carping over safety issues as an attempt to
disguise old-fashioned trade protectionism as consumer protection. Free-
trade proponents in the U.S. see Europe's resistance to GM as
politically motivated -- a means of protecting the bloc's all-important
farming industry from foreign imports. But others disagree. "It's a bit
rich for the U.S. to say Europe is politically motivated when the main
reason for taking this before the WTO is that the U.S. doesn't want
other countries to follow Europe's lead and place restrictions on GM,"
says GeneWatch's Mayer.


The full details of how the WTO ruling will affect Europe won't be known
until the organization releases its final verdict later this year. In
the meantime, officials on both sides of the Atlantic are plowing
through the 1,000-page decision. The EU hasn't announced whether it will
ask for more time to comply with or appeal the decision.

But already many in Europe expect some national governments might decide
to go with public opinion and defy the EU by banning GM crops. Greece's
Agriculture Minister was quoted in the press last week saying his
country would ignore EU regulations and broaden its unauthorized ban on
GM-modified maize seeds. It seems this food fight is far from over.

                                 PART IV
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TITLE:  EU shrugs off modified foods censure
SOURCE: Financial Times, UK, by Raphael Minder in Brussels and
        Edward Alden in Washington
DATE:   09 Feb 2006

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EU shrugs off modified foods censure

A ruling by the World Trade Organisation against European restrictions
on genetically modified foods will not force the European Union to amend
its legislation, EU officials insisted yesterday.

Yet the WTO's interim report, released late on Tuesday, could have a
profound impact on developing countries that have started or are
considering switching to GM technology. This is because it will
reinforce claims championed by the US that GM foods are not only safe
but also enable farmers considerably to cut their production costs.

In Brussels yesterday, Susan Schwab, deputy US trade representative,
welcomed the WTO's decision, adding: "When we are talking about biotech
food, we are talking about an incredible opportunity for farmers
throughout the world, particularly in the developing world.'' The
complaint was filed against Europe in 2003 by the US, Canada and Argentina.

EU officials stressed the WTO's criticism was about former EU regulatory
safeguards but not the Union's existing rules, which came into force
after the tabling of the complaint. A spokesman for Peter Mandelson, EU
trade commissioner, said: "This interim report is largely of historical
interest, as this panel will not alter the system or framework within
which the EU takes decisions on GMOs."

Still, the report could influence what has been a heated European debate
about GMOs because of its condemnation of national curbs that have
remained in place after 2004, when Brussels resumed approvals - albeit
on a limited scale - of GM products.

Later this month the European Food Safety Authority is due to give its
scientific assessment on eight national bans, which could encourage the
European Commission to take another stab at lifting them.

The ruling was seized on by large companies such as Monsanto and
Syngenta, which have been frustrated by European restrictions and the
slow pace of approvals for new GM products. Sarah Thorn, senior director
of international trade at the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said:
"The WTO's decision makes it clear that biotech regulations must be
based on sound science and that the EU's approach to biotech crop
approvals is unwarranted."

Environmentalists criticised the ruling, with Friends of the Earth
describing it as an "inappropriate intrusion into decisions about what
food people eat".

Peter Jones, of the European flour milling association, said: "The WTO
can pass all the rules they want, but resistance is coming from the
consumer, and consumers in Britain and Europe don't want GMO foods."

                                 PART V
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TITLE:  Europe Bridles at WTO View on National Biotech Bans
SOURCE: Reuters, by by Jeremy Smith
DATE:   09 Feb 2006

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Europe Bridles at WTO View on National Biotech Bans

BRUSSELS - European countries bristled on Wednesday at a world trade
ruling that touches on national sovereignty over genetically modified
(GMO) foods, with some saying they would do their level best to keep
farming GMO-free.

Europe's consumers are well known for their scepticism, if not
hostility, to GMO crops, often dubbed as "Frankenstein foods". The
biotech industry insists its products are perfectly safe, however, and
no different to conventional foods.
Late on Tuesday, a World Trade Organisation panel ruled that various EU
countries - Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg - had
broken international trade rules by imposing national bans on marketing
and growing specific GMO's.

Some of those countries reacted angrily to the WTO ruling, saying they
would defend their legal right to block EU-approved products if they
wanted, since this was the will of consumers. EU law dictates that such
bans must be scientifically justified.

Austria, one of the EU's staunchest biotech sceptics, has banned imports
of three GMO maize types and is considering a ban on growing a GMO
rapeseed. Government officials say they will continue to be as
restrictive as possible for the time being.

"The protection of people and the environment have absolute priority,
and the most recent scientific research vindicates our cautious approach
in this matter," said Austrian Health Minister Maria Rauch-Kallat,
responsible for national GMO policy.

"We will exhaust all possibilities to keep Austria's agriculture GM-free
and ensure consumers' safety."

Greece, also traditionally opposed to biotech foods, agreed.

"Greece is against genetically modified foods. All prefectures have
declared their area GMO-free. We need to discuss with Brussels and
scientists safeguards before we lift the ban," a Greek agriculture
ministry source told Reuters.

Last June, EU governments rebuffed attempts by the European Commission
to order the five countries to lift their national GMO bans - the first
time that the bloc has managed to agree anything on biotech policy since 1998.

The Commission did not think the bans were justified, and nor did the
WTO in its ruling on the case filed by Argentina, Canada and the United
States. It also said the EU's de facto GMO moratorium between 1999 and
2003 broke world trade rules.


France, home to anti-GMO and free trade firebrand Jose Bove, has a long-
standing consumer opposition to biotech food. Europe's agricultural
powerhouse, France bans two types of GMO rapeseed but has allowed some
small-scale growing of GMO maize.

French consumer and farming groups deplored the WTO ruling, insisting
that a large majority of consumers firmly opposed GMO's and that the
EU's temporary approvals ban was correct.

A poll published in France this week showed that 78 percent of those
questioned would like a temporary ban on GMO products in order to
evaluate their health and environmental impact.

In Italy, Agriculture Minister Giovanni Alemanno said it was very
serious for the WTO to take an "unbalanced stance" against European
norms on GMO products.

"We would not want this verdict to represent an attempt to undermine the
legislative sovereignty of the European Union," he said in a statement.

"In the past few months, there are many products that have been
authorised by the European Commission and no country has maintained a
protectionist moratorium on these products."

Green groups said consumer resistance to GMO's has increased in Europe
since the three major GMO growers filed their WTO complaint in 2003. The
ruling will not encourage consumers to buy more GMO's, they say, and
maybe make the opposition stronger.

"The WTO has bluntly ruled that European safeguards (bans) should be
sacrificed to benefit biotech corporations," said Adrian Bebb, GMO
campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe.

"This will backfire and lead to even greater opposition to genetically
modified food and crops. Consumers worldwide will not be bullied into
eating GM foods."

US officials regretted there was a level of misinformation in Europe
about the benefits of biotech crops but hoped that the WTO ruling would
let the EU open its doors more to GMO imports.

"It is unfortunate the extent to which certain groups have decided to
demagogue the issue and mis-characterise the quality ... and
environmental implications of biotechnology," Deputy US Trade
Representative Susan Schwab told reporters.

"The proof will be in trade flows and transparency and ease of approval
processes. Time will tell," she said in Brussels.

(Additional reporting by Boris Groendahl in Vienna, Silvia Aloisi in
Rome, William Schomberg in Brussels, Foo Yun Chee in Athens, Sybille de
La Hamaide and David Evans in Paris)

                                 PART VI
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TITLE:  GM crop imports create new EU-US row
SOURCE: The Times, UK, by Rhys Blakely,,13129-2030850,00.html
DATE:   08 Feb 2006

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GM crop imports create new EU-US row

European Union officials have accused the United States of attempting to
skew public opinion on genetically modified crops by leaking a secret
report on an alleged illegal blockade of imports.

The row, over one of the most complex cases ever heard by the World
Trade Organisation, has placed relations between the EU and the US under
renewed strain, with acrimonious briefings and counter briefings
breaking out from officials on both sides.

An EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Times Online:
"This is the confidential Interim Report, not yet the final decision
which is expected in April ... we regret that others have chosen to
break that confidentiality and speak only to redress any bias."

American officials had claimed that the 1,000-page draft WTO report had
showed that the EU acted illegally in preventing GM imports. In comments
designed to engineer a further easing of European import restrictions,
the US said that a moratorium on GM imports, in place since 1998,
reflected business protectionism rather than concerns about the health
of consumers or the environment.

However, EU officials said that since the United States, along with
Argentina and Canada, filed the case in 2003, it has changed the way it
approves GM foods for the European market.

A EU official said: "Since May 2004 the EC has approved for import and
sale nine new GM products. The system is working. The science is sound.
Products are being processed and approved.

"The approval process and the consumer safety standards applied in the
EU may be more stringent than in the US - but GM imports to the EU are
rising, especially from competitive exporters like Brazil."

However, Susan Schwab, the US deputy trade representative, said that
Washington now expected a change in the EU's attitude towards GM
products which would be demonstrated by more imports.

"What will be the impact of the report on behaviour? Proof will be in
trade flows, in the transparency of the approval process," she told a
briefing during a visit to Brussels.

"If you are a producer or an exporter, the proof of the pudding is in
trade flows."

                                 PART VII
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  FACTBOX - Chronology of EU Moves on GMO Crops and Foods
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   08 Feb 2006

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FACTBOX - Chronology of EU Moves on GMO Crops and Foods

Feb 7 - The World Trade Organization is due to rule later on Tuesday on
whether the European Union's unofficial moratorium on approvals of
genetically modified (GMO) crops and foods, which ran from 1998 to 2004,
restricted trade.

Following is a short history of the moratorium, during which the bloc
refused the experimental or commercial growth of new gene crops or
imports of new GMO-based food products.
In or before 1998, approval was given for 18 biotech plants, including
maize, rapeseed, chicory and soybeans.


APRIL 1998 - EU's last approvals of new GMO food products.

OCTOBER 1998 - EU authorises two biotech carnation varieties (to improve
vase life and modify flower colour), the last live GMO plants to win EU
approval. The United States sees this as the point where the EU shuts
its doors to new GMO's - at this time, 18 GMO's are allowed for
commercial release in the EU.

JUNE 1999 - France and Greece lead calls for de facto moratorium on new
GMO approval at meeting of EU environment ministers and win backing from
Italy, Denmark and Luxembourg.

They are later joined by Belgium and Austria, forming a minority of EU
states that can block any vote on a new approval.

JANUARY 2000 - European Commission adopts regulation that additives and
flavourings have to be labelled if DNA or protein of GMO origin is
present in the final product.

JUNE 2000 - French Environment Minister Dominique Voynet insists on the
need for a liability scheme for biotech products.

JULY 2000 - EU environment ministers say they will support the
moratorium at least until proposals are presented for labelling and
tracing GMO content in biotech products.

JULY 2001 - European Commission presents labelling and traceability proposals.

OCTOBER 2002 - Updated "deliberate release" directive enters into force,
regulating the release of live GMO's into the environment. This repeals
previous legislation dating from 1991.

The updated directive sets down a step-by-step approvals process for
GMO's or products containing GMO's, and tightens controls on
traceability and labelling.

MAY 2003 - United States announces its intention to file a complaint
against the EU's unofficial ban on GMO's at the World Trade Organization.

JULY 2003 - EU adopts strict rules on labelling and tracing all GMO food
and feed which apply in all the bloc's member states from mid-April
2004. The labelling threshold for GMO content in non-GMO food is set at
0.9 percent.

JULY 2003 - European Commission issues guidelines on how to grow and
separate GMO crops in Europe's fields to minimise the spread of GMO's to
organic and conventional crop cultivation.

AUGUST 2003 - United States, Canada and Argentina challenge the EU over
its de facto moratorium on GMO's at the WTO, arguing that the ban is
illegal and without any scientific foundation.

SEPTEMBER 2003 - European Commission rejects a request by the regional
government of Upper Austria to ban the cultivation of GMO crops and
create a GMO-free zone.

OCTOBER 2003 - European Commission delays debate on its proposed seed
purity rules setting GMO content in conventional and organic seeds after
EU states demand stricter safety checks.

The proposed thresholds range from 0.3 to 0.7 percent.

NOVEMBER 2003 - Government of Upper Austria says it will challenge
Commission's ruling on its proposed GMO-free zone at the Court of First
Instance - the EU's second highest court.

NOVEMBER 2003 - EU food safety committee fails to agree on proposal to
authorise imports of Bt-11 sweet maize, a GMO food whose seeds are made
by Swiss agrochemicals giant Syngenta.

JANUARY 2004 - European Commission passes Bt-11 maize to EU ministers,
who have three months to consider the issue and reach a final decision.

FEBRUARY 2004 - EU environment experts fail to agree to allow imports of
NK603 maize, made by US biotech giant Monsanto, for use in animal feed.
The matter passes to EU ministers who have three months to decide.

APRIL 2004 - EU's updated laws on GMO traceability and labelling in food
and feed come fully into effect.

APRIL 2004 - EU ministers lose last chance to approve or reject
application to authorise Bt-11, debate ends in deadlock. Application
passes to Commission for a rubberstamp approval, effectively ending EU
moratorium on new GMO foods.

APRIL 2004 - EU food safety experts fail to agree to allow imports of
NK603 maize for its use in processed products for human consumption.
Issue again passes to EU ministers with a three-month discussion period.

MAY 2004 - Draft Commission proposal setting GMO content in conventional
and organic seeds is leaked by green groups. The proposed thresholds
range from 0.3 to 0.5 percent.

MAY 2004 - European Commission ends de facto ban by authorising imports
of Bt-11 maize for sale on supermarket shelves as canned sweetcorn.

OCTOBER 2004 - European Commission authorises second new GMO product,
Monsanto's NK603 maize, via default legal rubberstamp.

MARCH 2005 - European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says 1507 maize, made
jointly by Pioneer Hi-Bred, a subsidiary of DuPont and Dow AgroSciences,
is safe to grow.

MAY 2005 - EU food safety authority says Syngenta's Bt-11 maize is safe
to grow, its second assessment of a "live" GMO.

JUNE 2005 - EU environment ministers uphold eight national bans on GMO
maize and rapeseed types, rejecting draft orders from the European
Commission that were directed at Austria, France, Germany, Greece and

JULY 2005 - EFSA issues first assessment of hybrid GMO strains for use
in food and animal feed - three Monsanto maize types - saying they are
no different than the equivalent conventional maize hybrids.

AUGUST 2005 - European Commission authorises imports of Monsanto's
insect-resistant MON 863 maize for processing into animal feed, its
third rubberstamp approval of a new GMO product since the end of the de
facto moratorium.

AUGUST 2005 - European Commission rubberstamps approval for imports of
Monsanto's herbicide-resistant GT73 rapeseed, also for processing into
animal feed.

OCTOBER 2005 - Court of First Instance rejects Austria's appeal against
the European Commission order for Upper Austria to outlaw all GMO's for
three years. NOVEMBER 2005 - European Commission rubberstamps approval
of Dow/Pioneer's 1507 maize for processing for animal feed use.

NOVEMBER 2005 - Denmark becomes first EU country to win permission from
Brussels to compensate farmers who have detected GMO material in
traditional or organic crops under the country's law on coexistence
between GMO, traditional and organic crops.

JANUARY 2006 - European Commission rubberstamps approval of three
Monsanto GMO maize types: herbicide-tolerant GA21 and insect-resistant
MON 863 in food and food ingredients; and a MON 863/MON 810 hybrid in
industrial processing, mainly for feed.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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

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