US still bullying EU to market GMOs (30/5/2007)

NOTE: US emails to EU can be seen on the FoEE website http://www.foeeurope.org/


US still bullying EU to market GMOs
But avoid the dirty GMO word! advises US official

30 May 2007, Brussels - New documents obtained by Friends of the Earth reveal that the United States continues to pressure the EU to market new genetically modified (GM) crops and foods, despite the World Trade Organisation's recent verdict that the EU has a right to protect itself against GMOs. In an email exchange, US officials even insisted that the EU should steer clear of the term "GMOs" in order to minimize public opposition to its policies.

Friends of the Earth Europe GMO Campaign Coordinator Helen Holder said: "Even after they failed to win at the WTO, the US, and their friends in the biotech industry are still trying to force feed European citizens GMOs. The European Commission must stand firm, and put European citizens' health, the environment and the right to GM-free food and farming before the interests of a few big corporations."

The documents - email correspondence and minutes of a meeting between the European Commission and the US earlier this year - were obtained by Friends of the Earth Europe under a freedom of information request. The documents reveal US frustrations at the EU's failure to "normalize trade" of agricultural biotechnology products and at the "lack of political will to operate EU approval systems of GMOs" due to member states' opposition.

The US was pushing the European Commission to:

*Ignore risk assessment concerns and push GMOs quickly on to the EU market *Agree a deal to fast-track GMOs that the US wants to be sold in Europe *Authorize a controversial genetically modified oilseed rape [canola] as proof that the Commission is backing down under US pressure *Bring top EU decision makers into line with US policy and commit to allowing GMOs into the EU *Abolish member states' national bans *Lower standards for GM contamination of food for GMOs that are not authorized in the EU

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) issued its final ruling of the GMO dispute last autumn, finding no clear winner or losers.  It did not question the right of counties to put in place strict biosafety laws, nor the right of a country to ban an individual GMO. The GMO bans in place when the complaint was lodged were ruled illegal on a technicality only [3].

For more information, please contact:

Rosemary Hall, Communications Officer at Friends of the Earth Europe: Mobile +32 485 930515, [email protected]

Helen Holder, coordinator of the Friends of the Earth Europe GMOs campaign: Mobile +32 474 857638, [email protected]

For further background see FoEE media briefing:

[1] http://www.foeeurope.org/GMOs/2007/Annex1_US_EC_Emails.pdf

[2] http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2007/FoEE_GMOS_US_pressure_on_EU_brief_May07.pdf

[3] For an overview of the WTO dispute ruling see:

Friends of the Earth Europe campaigns for sustainable and fair societies and for the protection of the environment, unites more than 30 national organisations with thousands of local groups and is part of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International.

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