GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 11th February 2006

Forcing Unsafe GE Food on Consumers Destroys Legitimacy of WTO

The World Trade Organisation- already under pressure for failing to deliver it's trade objectives- could fall apart if it insists on forcing GE foods on countries around the world.

An initial WTO decision backing the US and a handful of countries in their efforts to force European nations to import GE foods is likely to prompt a backlash from consumers, growers and manufacturers as they fight to
protect basic rights.

"On the surface the decision is a terrible one for food safety, the consumers' right to choose and national sovereignty," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ.

"But the decision is such a fundamental attack on the integrity of the global food system that the international backlash could result in the collapse of the WTO".

"If governments are suprised by the reaction to publication of cartoons offensive to Islam, they should be prepared to be even more shocked by the reactions of consumers to the WTO forcing them to eat experimental and inadequately tested GE foods", says Mr Carapiet.

Consumers have previously been promised by the Biotech industry and governments that people will have a choice to avoid GE foods.

But the WTO decision sounds alarmingly like a means of enforcing a "New World Order" that literally forces people to eat food they do not want in order to serve the interests of multinational corporations intent on dominating the food suppply.

It is important to remember that the US government's own scientists advised against approval of GE foods under the current regulatory regime but were deliberately ignored.

Evidence continues to mount of harm caused by some GE products already in use.

The absence of a global agreement on testing methodologies for such foods has prompted the British Medical Association and other medical professionals to warn that the young, the elderly, people with reduced
immunity, pregnant women, and unborn children are all particularly at risk.

Nor is it only the inadequate testing of GE food for safety that is deeply flawed and makes the WTO decision wrong. The environmental threat from GE crops continues to be a major concern. Recently the US Department of Agriculture was found to have failed to control GE field trials (see below) further confirming the view that the US regulatory system being backed by the WTO is moribund, but through bullying and forced-feeding now puts the rest of the world at risk.

Jon Carapiet - 0210 507 681


Lax Oversight Found in Tests of Gene-Altered Crops
New York Times, January 3, 2006

Press Release from Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
February 7, 2006
Contact: Ben Lilliston, 612-870-3416

WTO Ruling on Genetically Engineered Crops Would Override International,
National and Local Protections

Ruling Favors U.S. Biotech Companies Over Precautionary Regulation

Minneapolis - As reported in the media today, a preliminary ruling issued
by a World Trade Organization (WTO)'s dispute resolution panel would be a
major step back for the democratic rights of national and local
governments to set their own environmental and human health regulations
when there is scientific uncertainty, said the Institute for Agriculture
and Trade Policy.

The ruling, which has not yet been made public, concerns a U.S., Canadian
and Argentine government challenge of a European Commission (EC)
regulatory system that delayed the commercialization of genetically
engineered (GE) crops until further scientific evidence of their
environmental and health safety was available. The EC system has approved
GE crops for commercialization since the dispute was filed in 2003.

"Beyond GE crops, the WTO ruling as reported sets a broad precedent to
inhibit the ability of WTO member states to set food safety, public health
and environmental health measures where there is scientific uncertainty
about the adequacy or quality of data submitted for commercialization
approvals," said Steve Suppan, IATP Research Director and author of a
backgrounder on the case.

If the lengthy ruling remains unchanged before its final publication, it
will likely be used as a legal tool against GE bans passed in European
Union member states, in several Asian and African WTO member countries,
and even in a few U.S. counties.

The reported WTO ruling at least indirectly challenges the authority of
the United Nations Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which authorizes its
member countries to take a precautionary approach to regulating GE crops
when there is scientific uncertainty. While the dispute plaintiffs are
not among the Protocol's 131 member states, dozens of WTO members are, so
the ruling could conflict with their Protocol commitments, including those
implemented at a national and local level.

"It's disappointing that the WTO would seek to override democratic
decisions at literally all levels of government," said Dennis Olson,
Director of IATP's Trade and Agriculture Project. "There is already a
broad international consensus on how to handle GE crops at the
international level established at the Cartagena Protocol. This consensus
acknowledges that each country has the right to regulate GE crops based on
precautionary principles, to require labeling of GE crops, and to protect
farmers and others from unfair liability arising from the release of GE
crops into the environment and food distribution system. Now, the WTO's
unelected legal tribunal, at the request of the U.S. government, has
chosen to pre-empt a strong democratic international consensus."

The WTO ruling comes on the heels of a scathing U.S. Department of
Agriculture Inspector General report which found that the USDA did not
require inspections of field tests of experimental GE crops, didn't assure
that crops were destroyed after the tests were finished, and often didn't
even know where the tests were being conducted. Nearly every independent
review of the U.S. regulatory system regarding GE crops has found
significant deficiencies. The National Research Council published critical
reviews of the U.S. regulatory process in 2000, 2002 and 2004. The flaws
of the U.S. regulatory system and the unknown risks of GE crops are
outlined in an amicus brief filed in the WTO case by the Center for
International Environmental Law, Friends of the Earth - U.S., Defenders of
Wildlife, IATP, and the Organic Consumers Association. It is available at:

"The WTO dispute panel is set up to view regulations strictly in a
framework designed to facilitate trade, not to realize public or
environmental health objectives," said Suppan. "The U.S. government and
the biotech companies may claim that the ruling proves that GE crops are
safe for human consumption and the use of GE seeds is an environmentally
beneficial agricultural practice. But the ruling covers no such thing:
much less does it support the profoundly flawed U.S. regulation of GE

It is unlikely the case will increase U.S. food sales to Europe. Europe
still requires labeling of GE crops, and there is overwhelming consumer
sentiment for GE-free foods there. U.S. wheat growers, recognizing that
European and Asian consumers do not want GE crops, successfully blocked
the approval of GE wheat in the U.S. in 2004. However, there is a real
danger that the ruling could be used to force sales of GE products in
developing countries, who have less leverage to stand up to political
pressure from the United States government.

Steve Suppan's backgrounder on the WTO case is available at:

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy works globally to promote
resilient family farms, communities and ecosystems through research and
education, science and technology, and advocacy.

Ben Lilliston
Communications Director
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Avenue S.
Minneapolis, MN 55404



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