miércoles, noviembre 22, 2006


Friends of the Earth Europe

Press Release

For Immediate Release: Tuesday 21st November



Dangerous precedent set for future disputes, says Friends of the Earth Europe


Brussels/Geneva, 21 November - Friends of the Earth Europe has condemned today's decision by the EU not to contest a controversial ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the transatlantic trade war over genetically modified foods. The environmental NGO has warned that accepting the ruling, which ignored international environmental agreements, sets a dangerous precedent for future environmental disputes.

Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe said: "The EU has made a disappointing decision not to appeal the WTO's ruling. It seems that the EU is happy for the WTO to trample over environmental laws and expose the public and the environment to business interests. This sets a dangerous precedent for future environmental disputes. It is not for the WTO to decide what we eat or how we protect our environment. Whatever the WTO says, Europeans will continue to reject genetically modified foods."

Friends of the Earth Europe is critical of the way the WTO handles international agreements to protect the environment. In this case, the UN's Biosafety Protocol was totally ignored by the WTO. The Protocol is the only international safety agreement for GM products and allows nations to use a precautionary approach, giving them the right to ban GM products if there are concerns about their impacts on health and the environment. The WTO totally ignored the Protocol because the complainants – the United States, Canada and Argentina – were not signatories, even though the EU is and is therefore obliged to follow its rules.

"This case clearly demonstrates that the WTO is the wrong forum to deal with environmental trade disputes and the international community must find an alternative before another case occurs. The WTO ignored international environmental laws, met in secret behind closed doors and barred any public involvement, totally ignoring the strong public opposition to GM foods in Europe," Mr Bebb concluded.

The WTO ruling was published on 29th September and gave the EU until today to launch an appeal. The ruling rejected most of the US-led complaints against Europe's stance on genetically modified (GM) foods:

* It refused to rule against the EU's strict regulations to control the use of GM food and crops;
* It refused to rule on whether GM foods are safe or different to conventional foods;
* It rejected US claims that moratoria are illegal and did not question the right of countries to ban GM foods or crops.

However, the WTO draft ruling did rule - on technicalities - that Europe's four year GM moratorium, which ended in 2004, broke trade rules by causing "undue delays", but stated that moratoria were acceptable under certain circumstances. The WTO said national GM bans also broke trade rules, but only because the risk assessments did not comply with the WTO requirements. Most of the products banned are no longer on the market.


For more information, please contact:

Adrian Bebb, GM Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe: Tel :+49 802 599 1951, Mobile : +49 1609 4901163, Email: adrian.bebb@foeeurope.org

Rosemary Hall, Communications Officer at Friends of the Earth Europe:
Tel:+32 25 42 61 05, Mobile: +32 485 930515, Email: rosemary.hall@foeeurope.org

Rosemary Hall
Communications Officer
Friends of the Earth Europe
Rue Blanche 15 B-1050 Bruxelles Belgium
Tel.: +32 2 542 6105
Mobile: +32 485 930515
Fax: +32 2 537 5596


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