GM trade war delayed (26/8/2004)

GM trade war delayed
Bush fails to win GM case before election
Friends of the Earth Press Release
For immediate release: Thursday 26th August 2004
Adrian Bebb, GMO expert: +49 1609 490 1163
Alexandra Wandel, WTO expert: +49 172 748 39 53

The outcome of the transatlantic trade dispute on genetically modified (GM) foods has been substantially delayed as scientists are called in to debate the safety of GM foods and crops (1). The move is a blow to the Bush Administration who fought to stop any debate over scientific safety (2).

The United States, Canada and Argentina started proceedings last year in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over Europe's position on GM foods. The WTO set up a three-person Panel to meet in secret to decide on the case.

In recent months the US Government has been fighting to prevent the Panel from calling in scientists and has argued their case on narrow trade rules. The European Union however has questioned whether the WTO is the appropriate place to settle such disputes and has been pushing for scientists to be involved in the debate. In a previous case over the use of beef hormones the scientific debate lasted for over 600 days.

In May this year campaigners delivered a petition to the WTO signed by more than 100,000 citizens from 90 countries and more than 544 organisations representing 48 million people. The signatories, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and French small farmers' leader Jose Bové, have called on the WTO not to undermine the sovereign right of any country to protect its citizens and the environment from GM foods and crops.

Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe said:

"The first round of this dispute may have gone to Europe but the long term implications of this case could be devastating for everyone. The World Trade Organisation is a secretive and undemocratic organisation and should not be deciding what we eat. The long term effects of GM foods and crops are unknown. Every country should have the right to put public safety before the economic might of the biotechnology industry."


Adrian Bebb, GMO expert: +49 1609 490 1163
Alexandra Wandel, WTO expert: +49 172 748 39 53

(1) The Panel has decided that the case raises scientific and technical issues on which the Panel might benefit from expert advice. Scientists will now be appointed by the WTO to prepare an advisory report in writing from an expert review group.

(2) The US had argued in its WTO submission 'Comments on the EC's final position whether to seek scientific advice', that there is 'no need or value in consulting experts'. See

Bush is using the World Trade Organisation to force-feed you genetically modified food! You can help stop them: Bite Back today and sign the Citizen's Objection to the WTO at

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