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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

 

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US to WTO: Critique EU Biotech Bans

Washington says bans, moratorium inconsistent with trade obligations

WASHINGTON, DC - The US has asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to establish a panel to consider complaints by the US, Canada, and Argentina about European restrictions on imports of foods derived from agricultural biotechnology - so-called "genetically-modified organisms," or GMOs.

In a recent statement to the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body in Brussels, Deputy US Trade Representative Linnet Deily said the US "is also requesting details from the European Communities (EC) on the more than 30 biotech products affected by the moratorium."

The US, she said, is "gravely concerned about the EC's five-year moratorium on approvals of new biotech crops and about individual EC member states' marketing and import bans of certain biotech products."

The measures are inconsistent with the EC's obligations under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the Agreement on Agriculture and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and are hindering the worldwide development and application of the technology, she said.

"The EC's own scientists have stated, there is no scientific basis" for either the moratorium or bans on products that had already been approved by the EC before the moratorium went into effect in October, 1998," Deily said.

As a result, "the EC approval moratorium and the member state bans have restricted imports of agricultural and food products from the United States."

More broadly, the United States is concerned that the EC's measures are hindering the worldwide development and application of agricultural biotechnology.

This technology "has great promise for raising farmer productivity, reducing hunger and improving health in the developing world, and improving the environment," Deily added.

The US and Argentina jointly consulted with the EC concerning the approval moratorium and the member State bans in June.

Canada held separate consultations with the EC on the same measures.

At the consultations, the EC neither agreed to lift its moratorium or the member State bans, nor did it offer any scientific justification for its measures, Deily said.

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