World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


US. Canada Argentina Challenge EU biotech block

European Communities — Measures affecting the approval and marketing of biotech products

The US, Canada and Argentina introduced their first-time panel requests (respectively, WT/DS291/23, WT/DS292/17, & WT/DS293/17). They all stated that, regarding EC-level measures, the moratorium maintained since October 1998 on the approval of biotech products had restricted the imports of agricultural and food products. Regarding the EC member State-level measures, the complainants said that a number of EC member States maintain national marketing and import bans on biotech products even though those products have already been approved by the EC.

The US further clarified that the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement recognizes that WTO members may adopt approval procedures for crops and food products, including biotech products, in order to protect health and the environment. The US emphasized that the EC procedures, as written, are not the focus of the US complaint. It is the EC's application of its measures governing the approval of biotech products. The US also expressed its concern that the EC measures were hindering the worldwide development and application of agricultural biotechnology – a technology which, according to the US, has great promise for raising farmer productivity, reducing hunger and improving health in the developing world, and improving the environment.

Argentina added that agricultural products account for over half of Argentina's total exports, and that it is the second largest producer and exporter of biotech products in the world. Argentina said that the EC's “behaviour” discourages the introduction of the biotech process, and that it is particularly detrimental because EC has the ability to influence other WTO members.

In response, the EC expressed surprise and disappointment at the panel requests. The EC said that it had repeatedly made clear that the approval of genetically-modified organisms and genetically-modified food was possible in the EU, that a number of applications were being examined and decisions would be taken shortly. The EC further pointed out that 18 GMOs and 15 food products derived from GMOs have been approved and that these GM products are imported each year by the EC.

The EC said that it had serious doubts that the complaining members were interested in seeking a satisfactory outcome to the consultations. It said that it was puzzled by the US attitude during the consultations period which cast doubt about the US willingness to engage in a meaningful dialogue in good faith. The EC said that it was extremely disappointed that the members requesting a panel had not chosen the path of international cooperation to build an appropriate framework for the development of biotechnology, while seriously addressing any potential risks and social concerns. The EC emphasized that every country should be free to make its own decisions and to determine the appropriate level of protection for its citizens. The EC concluded by saying that it could not agree to the establishment of a panel.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Gordon Campbell: Zimbabwe - Meet The New Bosses

At 75, Mnangagwa is not exactly what you’d call a new broom. As many observers have pointed out, his track record has been one of unswerving dedication to Mugabe ever since the days of anti-colonial insurgency... To these guys, things had to change in Zimbabwe, so that things could remain the same. More>>


Gordon Campbell: Is This Guy The World’s Most Dangerous Thirtysomething?

Saudi Arabia has long been regarded as a pillar of stability in the Middle East, and is the essential caterer to the West’s fossil fuel needs. It is also the country that gave us Osama Bin Laden, al Qaeda, and 15 of the 19 terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks... More>>


Non-Binding Postal Vote: Australia Says Yes To Same Sex Marriage

Binoy Kampmark: Out of 150 federal seats, 133 registered affirmative totals in returning their response to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”. More>>


Bonn Climate Change Conference: Protecting Health In Small Island States

The vision is that, by 2030, all Small Island Developing States will have health systems that are resilient to climate change and countries around the world will be reducing their carbon emissions both to protect the most vulnerable from climate risks and deliver large health benefits in carbon-emitting countries. More>>