Greenpeace to Lamy: don't cave in to US corporate agenda on GMOs

EU Trade Ministers urged to defend universal right to say No to GMOs

Press release - 6 July, 2003
Greenpeace today presented the EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and the Italian Trade Minister, Adolfo Urso, with two sacks of soy contaminated with genetically engineered (GE) varieties by the US-multinational GE company Monsanto, asking the Commissioner to return them to his US counterpart Robert Zoellick. Commissioner Lamy is currently in Palermo to meet with the EU Trade Ministers in their last official meeting prior to the WTO ministerial in Cancun, Mexico in September.

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.

The US is expected to broaden its formal WTO complaint on the /de facto/ EU moratorium on new approvals of genetically modified organisms (GMO) to include opposing the new EU regulations on labelling and traceability.

"These two sacks with EU flag symbolise the EU member states and the large volumes of GMOs that are still being imported to Europe mostly to be used in animal feed. The US must not be allowed to succeed in imposing its own sub-standards regarding GMOs on the rest of the world. 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.

The GE industry and its backers in the Bush Administration are threatened by the new EU rules as they facilitate the market identifying and excluding GE ingredients in Europe but also serve as a model legislation for other countries planning to regulate GMOs.

"When EU trade ministers attend the WTO ministerial in Cancun in September, they need to make the US understand that the WTO should have nothing to do with GMOs and must not interfere with the objective and effectiveness of the mutlilateral environmental agreements. Instead action needs to be taken to implement and strengthen the UN Protocol on Biosafety, which will enter into force during the Cancun meeting," said Sebastien Risso, Trade Advisor from the Greenpeace EU Unit.

Europe is currently importing millions of tonnes of GE contaminated soy and maize every year from the US and Argentina (1), most of it for use in animal feed. Europeans currently consume pork, beef, chicken, dairy and farmed fish without knowing that the animal they are eating may have had a diet containing up to 20-30% GE soy. The new EU labelling rules still exclude GMO labelling of meat and dairy products produced from animals reared on GE feed.

As a trade matter, Greenpeace urged the EU Trade Ministers to demand segregation of GE and non-GE grains in supplier countries, including the US and Argentina, as well as the use of anti-competition measures to tackle strategic barriers such as the partnership between Monsanto, the world's largest GE company with Cargill, the world's second largest grain processor and distributor, whose business practice is at present likely to eliminate chances of avoiding contamination of cargos.

Notes: (1) For example, the total soy import (soybeans and soymeal) to Europe in 2002 was 36.6 million tonnes. 7.3 million tonnes was imported from the US where up to 80% of soy is genetically engineered. 10.8 million tonnes was imported from Argentina where about 95% of the soy grown is GE. About half of the soy imports to Europe came from Brazil, that still bans the commercial growing of GE crops. (Figures: Eurostat 2003).