WTO Rules Against EU's Biotech-Seed Rules, U.S. Says
Date: Thursday, February 09 2006
Topic: Eye on Uncle Sam
WTO Rules Against EU's Biotech-Seed Rules, U.S. Says (Update2)
Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- The World Trade Organization ruled that the European Union unfairly blocked imports of genetically engineered crops, U.S. and EU trade officials said. The decision may break down barriers to the global spread of biotech foods.
Trade regulators sided with the U.S., Canada and Argentina, saying the EU shut its market to biotech seeds from producers such as Monsanto Co. without adequate scientific evidence of their harm, the officials said. The WTO declined to comment on the confidential preliminary ruling.
U.S. industry groups say EU curbs cost their exporters $300 million a year in lost sales in a $5.5 billion global biotech market. The EU, which grows less than 1 percent of the world's gene-modified crops, banned biotech foods for six years until 2004.
``One of the main reasons to bring the case was to prevent the loss of other important markets'' for U.S. agriculture exports, Michelle Gorman, director of regulatory relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, said late yesterday after the ruling by the Geneva-based WTO.
European governments such as Germany and France, as well as activists such as Greenpeace International, say the crops threaten human health and the environment. The U.S. insists that the seeds are as safe as conventional seeds.
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on February 9, 2006]