"The panel did not examine whether biotech products in general are safe or not," said the WTO ruling.
WTO's decision on GM foods in Europe did not cover safety issues
Agence France Press, 2/10/2006
GENEVA, Feb 9 (AFP): A World Trade Organisation ruling that the European Union imposed unfair restrictions on genetically modified crops did not tackle the vexed issue of their safety, it emerged yesterday.
The confidential WTO ruling noted that the organisation's dispute settlement panel had stuck purely to trade issues.
"The panel did not examine whether biotech products in general are safe or not," said the ruling, which ran to 1,050 pages-the longest ever issued by the decade-old WTO, reflecting the complexity of the case.
Nor did it address "whether the biotech products at issue in this dispute are 'like' their conventional counterparts", even though this claim was made by Argentina, Canada and the United States, which had asked for the WTO ruling.
They filed their complaint in May 2003, charging that the EU stance reflected business protectionism rather than concerns about the impact of biotechnology on the health of consumers or the environment The problem, the report said, was that a de facto EU moratorium on imports of GM crops between June 1999 and August 2003 broke a WTO agreement that allows governments to restrict imports on health grounds.
No party in the case questioned the EU's right to consider possible risks prior to giving approval for the consumption or planting of biotech crops, the ruling said.
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