Brussels, 08 Feb 2006
A WTO panel has in some respects ruled against the EU and in favour of the US, Canada and Argentina in a complaint relating to genetically modified organisms (GMOs)1.
BEUC favours a global rule-based trading system, but it is not the solution to every problem. This recent WTO decision will not make European consumers accept GMOs any more than they do at present. Indeed it is more likely to have the reverse effect, if consumers feel that GMOs are being forced upon them.
The decision will not change EU rules on GMOs and we welcome the Commission's strong defence of the current regime. The EU rules are WTO compliant and the complainants did not actually challenge these rules as such. Why then was the complaint brought in the first place? We suspect the complaint was brought to provide a way to intimidate third countries which may wish to introduce their own rules on GMOs.
WTO rules have been used or, more accurately, abused in the past in order to intimidate individual countries and especially poorer countries – in relation to medicines and intellectual property for example. We fear that this recent ruling on GMOs will have a similar sorry result. We applaud and support the Commission's statement that "every country has the sovereign right to make its own decisions on GMOs in accordance with the values prevailing in its society".