EU, don't cave in to US corporate agenda on GMOs!

Greenpeace urges EU Trade Ministers to defend universal right to say No to GMOs

Feature story - 7 July, 2003
We gave two sacks of soy contaminated with Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) varieties to Pascal Lamy (EU Trade Commissioner) and asked him to send them back to his US counterpart, Robert Zoellick. The right to say no to genetically engineered (GE) food should be available not just to Europeans, but to everyone around the world. We urge the EU to stand strong at the WTO meeting in Cancun in September, and not cave in to US pressure on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMOs are a biosafety issue, not a trade issue.

EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy receives from Greenpeace Italy Genetic Engineering campaigner Federica Ferrario sacks of soy contaminated with genetically engineered (GE) varieties by the US-multinational GE company Monsanto.

From field to fork, the food we eat and the seeds we plant in our fields are being targeted by multinationals, which are attempting a corporate take-over of the entire food chain. They are seeking to reduce everything to a trade issue, including environmental and social concerns, which are brushed aside as unfair trade barriers.

For example, the EU has just adopted the world's strongest rules on the labelling of GMOs. To the GE industry and its backers in the Bush Administration, the rules are a threat to their plans to force-feed the world GMOs, because they not only help to identify and exclude GE ingredients in Europe, but also serve as model legislation for other countries planning to regulate GMOs. The US is, therefore, challenging the EU's GMO policy through the WTO and is expected to broaden its complaint against the EU's GMO moratorium, to include opposing the EU's new GMO labelling regulations.

By bringing this complaint, the US is also trying to use the WTO to override crucial environmental agreements, like the first legally binding global agreement that allows countries to reject GMOs, the Biosafety Protocol.

When EU trade ministers next meet at the WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun in September, they need to make the US understand that GMOs are not an issue for the WTO to regulate. Instead, action needs to be taken to implement and strengthen the UN Protocol on Biosafety, which will enter into force during the Cancun meeting. The Biosafety Protocol represents a much-needed tool, especially for developing countries wishing to ban or restrict GMO imports.

"We urge the EU Trade Ministers to recognise that protecting the environment and people from the hazards of GMOs is not a trade issue but a biosafety one," said Frederica Ferrario, Greenpeace genetic engineering campaigner in Italy.