GMO trade war escalates (5/3/2004)

the Bush-Blair corporate axis continues apace

GMO trade war escalates
For Immediate release 5 May 2004

Brussels - The US has escalated transatlantic trade tensions by pushing for a full-blown trade dispute over Europe's reluctance to accept genetically modified (GM) food and crops. The World Trade Organisation (WTO), at the request of the US Government, today released the names of a panel of trade experts that will preside over the dispute over the coming months. Friends of the Earth Europe has accused the Bush Government of using the secretive and undemocratic WTO to "force-feed" GM food to Europe and the rest of the world.(1)

The USA, Canada and Argentina started the WTO dispute on May 13th 2003 claiming that the de facto moratorium on GM products in Europe was harming the livelihoods of their farmers. But the dispute ground to a halt after all parties could not decide who should sit on the WTO panel and the European Commission signaled its intent to break the five-year GM moratorium. However, after EU member states twice failed to agree to the import of two new GM foods, the USA last week asked the WTO to select a panel of experts and take the case further.

The WTO process is highly secretive. The composed panel will take evidence from both sides in secret, with no official involvement from the public. It is expected to come to a conclusion at the end of 2004. An appeal is then likely to take place before the final verdict some time next year. If Europe loses, it will either face severe financial penalties or be forced to allow more GM foods onto the market.

Martin Rocholl, Director of Friends of the Earth Europe said:

"The Bush Administration is using the undemocratic and secretive WTO to force feed GM food on the world. Decisions about the food we eat should be made in Europe, not the White House or the WTO. The European Commission must fight this aggressive US policy and ensure that Europe's food, farming and environment is protected from the threats of GM food and crops"


Tens of thousands of people and international organisations with a total of 35 million members have signed objections to the US complaint calling on the WTO to drop the case. (see

1. The WTO panel will be made up of: Christian Häberli (Chair), Mohan Kumar, Akio Shimizu


Alexandra Wandel, Friends of the Earth Europe Trade Coordinator - +32 497 90 80 68 Adrian Bebb, Friends of the Europe GMO campaigner - +49 1609 490 1163


"Blair is giving [GM] the nod on the basis of flawed testing. If GM is sown in our fields he will reap a whirlwind of protest."  - Sarah North, Greenpeace


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