Greenpeace volunteers dressed as Uncle Sam dump GE maize on other volunteers representing consumers in straitjackets, suffocating their demand for the right to say no GE food.
How does the WTO affect you?
Global trade affects many aspects of life. It can impact
everything from the environment to your health and the well-being
of people around the world. At the next WTO meeting in Cancun, it
is not just trade that is on the agenda but environment and human
health. The results will affect everyone.
Why you should care about the WTO and its rules on trade
Governments attending the WTO meeting in Cancun, Mexico from
10-14 September, 2003 will be discussing how to make sure that
poorer countries have access to medicines and vaccines. They will
discuss the relationship between trade rules and environmental
agreements, which could end up making trade rules more important
than protecting the environment.
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If you care about the environment...
...then you will be concerned that the
WTO puts trade on the highest pedestal - before the environment
As countries compete to trade more, production and the use of
natural resources is spiralling in one direction - up. Resources
are being used up faster than they can be replenished. The oceans
are being emptied of fish, ancient forests are being destroyed, and
river basins are being sold off one by one to private drinking
Huge oil, gas, mining, pharmaceutical and agri-business
multinationals keep expanding their operations at all costs,
creating more and more pollution. Their sole goal - to make money,
not to take care of our planet and health, now or for future
In addition to this, the WTO is now threatening crucial
environmental agreements, for example the first legally binding
global agreement that allows countries to reject GMOs, the
Biosafety Protocol. The Protocol is being undermined by trade rules
and its provisions considered trade barriers.
Trade rules must not be allowed to take priority over
If you don't want to eat genetically engineered (GE) food…
then you will want to stop the US
from using the WTO as a weapon to force-feed the world GE food.
We have a right to know what we are eating and to say no to GE
food. But from field to fork, the food we eat and the seeds we
plant in our fields are being targeted by the GE industry. It is
attempting a corporate take-over of the entire food chain.
Countries should not be bullied into accepting GE food, GE seeds
or GE crops. Governments must feel free to use the strictest
possible standards to regulate genetically modified organisms
(GMOs). Science has not proved that GMOs are safe to eat or safe
for the environment.
The EU has just adopted the world's strictest rules on GMOs. But
backed by the GE industry, the US is using the WTO to challenge the
EU's current regulations on GMOs. The ultimate goal - to force GE
food on the EU and the rest of the world. What happens now will
determine whether many countries and consumers will be forced to
eat GE food.
Find out more.
If you don't think GE crops should be forced on farmers…
then you will be concerned by the GE
contamination of Mexican maize.
Mexico is the centre of origin of maize diversity and home to
many traditional maize varieties in the world. Mexican farmers who
fought hard to protect their valuable crop found themselves under
threat from GE maize. It was imported from the US and contaminated
their crops. As a result, maize, one of the world's most important
staple foods is under threat.
This case demonstrates that genetic engineering is a giant
experiment with nature that cannot be controlled. Genetic pollution
cannot be contained and will not disappear by itself - it will
spread. Maize for example, sheds large quantities of pollen that
can be carried by bees or the wind.
The Biosafety Protocol recognizes the right of countries to
reject GMOs based on the 'precautionary principle.' This comon
sense rule means that as long as there are doubts about the
environmental safety of GMOs, then countries can reject them.
Precaution should come before profit. This is especially important
in of centres of diversity of staple foods like maize. But the
Biosafety Protocol and precautionary principle are being threatened
by the WTO.
If you think everyone has the right to be free of poverty…
then you will feel outraged that the
WTO works against poorer nations.
The WTO has failed to deliver on agreements to give developing
countries access to life-saving medicines.
Governments tried to present the WTO meeting held in Doha in
November 2001 as a "development" round that would deliver economic
benefits to developing countries in Africa, Asia, the South Pacific
and Latin America. They promised developing countries greater
access to life-saving medicines, as well as greater access to
markets for their agricultural goods (anything from produce to
cotton, coffee and other crops that form a big part of some
developing country economies).
But the promises made in Doha have not been kept. Developing
countries have seen no sign of the medicines - the US is blocking
the agreement. This underlines the fact that the WTO is in essence
a tool of rich and powerful countries - notably the US, the EU,
Japan and Canada - and the powerful corporate lobbies that pull
If you want corporations to be held accountable for their actions…
then you will be against the WTO
extending its power and the power of the corporations driving it,
into new areas.
A new investment agreement tabled for discussion at the WTO will
extend both the power of the WTO and the corporations that drive
it. These corporations will not be held accountable for their
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