Tuesday 7th February 2006 - for immediate release
According to press reports, the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) interim report on the GM dispute brought by the USA, Canada and Argentina, is that Europe's six year moratorium on GM crop approvals between 1998 and 2004 broke trade rules. The WTO is also reported to have said that individual country bans on some GM crops and foods also broke trade rules. However, other parts of the preliminary decision are said to be more mixed. Because the WTO dispute process is secretive, the full details will only emerge if the report is leaked.
"It was a serious misjudgement on the part of the USA to bring this complaint. Their apparent victory is likely to be very hollow because people are unlikely to accept the WTOs authority and start buying GM food," said Dr Sue Mayer, GeneWatch UK's Director. "Europe halted GM approvals not to erect a trade barrier, but because people wanted rules which would protect the environment and human health as well as providing choice. If the US had had its way we'd be growing GM herbicide tolerant crops in Britain which we now know would be damaging to farmland wildlife because of research conducted during the moratorium".
"The biotech industry may regret the day this dispute was brought. In the same way mixing GM with non-GM soya in 1997 ignited a public controversy, the ruling will not reassure people about the industry's intentions and public rejection of GM could intensify. The WTO is also unlikely to gain credibility from the case," said Dr Mayer
For further information:
Please contact Sue Mayer on +44 (0)1298 871898 (office) or +44 (0)7930 308807
GeneWatch UK, The Mill House, Manchester Road, Tideswell, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 9LN, UK
web site: www.genewatch.org