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EU moratorium on ag biotech breaks WTO rules

Agriculture.com Staff 02/08/2006 @ 8:38am

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns released the following comments Tuesday in light of news the World Trade Organization (WTO) has preliminarily found the European Union (EU) has a de facto moratorium on agricultural biotechnology products inconsistent with WTO rules.

In 1998, member states in the EU began blocking EC regulatory approval for new agricultural biotech products, a move that effectively prohibits most U.S. corn and corn product exports to Europe.

"The facts on agricultural biotechnology are clear and compelling. It is a safe and beneficial technology that is improving food security and helping to reduce poverty worldwide," said U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman.

"We believe agricultural biotechnology products should be provided a timely, transparent and scientific review by the European Union, and that is why Canada, Argentina and the United States brought the case in the first place."

"The continuing adoption of agricultural biotechnology worldwide is evidence it provides tremendous benefits to farmers and rural communities. Global biotechnology acreage has increased more than 50 fold in the first decade of commercialization, with more than one billion acres planted," said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

"More than 8.5 million farmers in 21 countries, including five EU nations, are reducing pesticide use, receiving higher yields and preventing erosion by planting biotech varieties. Ninety percent of these farmers are in developing countries, adding to rural incomes, promoting development and preserving our environment."

The U.S. Trade Representative's office argues that the EU is imposing undue delays on biotech approvals, which results in extensive delays and prevents the marketing of many crops grown in the U.S. on the basis of politics rather than science. They say they want the EU to apply a scientific, timely, rules-based review and approval process to agricultural biotech product applications.

Recent EU approvals of certain biotech products, which were made after the US filed its WTO case, don't mean the EU has lifted the moratorium, they say, adding that many biotech products remain stalled in the EU's complex approval procedures.

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns released the following comments Tuesday in light of news the World Trade Organization (WTO) has preliminarily found the European Union (EU) has a de facto moratorium on agricultural biotechnology products inconsistent with WTO rules.

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