Washington, 12 Sep 2003
(begin fact sheet)
Office of the United States Trade Representative
September 11, 2003
The EU Moratorium on Agricultural Biotech Products
Claims and Facts
CLAIM: "There is therefore no issue that the WTO needs to examine. The US claim that there is a so-called 'moratorium' but the fact is that the EU has authorized GM [genetically modified] varieties in the past and is currently processing applications." -- Pascal Lamy, EU Trade Commissioner, May 13, 2003
-- "I believe at such time [by the time this case reaches a WTO [World Trade Organization] panel] the moratorium will be history." -- David Byrne, EU Health Commissioner, AFP, May 12, 2003
-- In its own May 13 press statement, the European Commission acknowledges that no new agricultural biotech products have been approved since October, 1998, nearly five years ago. The Oxford American Dictionary defines moratorium as "a temporary ban or suspension on some activity."
-- On October 17, 2002, EU Directive 2001/18 was implemented. This is the directive under which the European Union claims it is "currently processing applications." But on the very same day, EU Environment Commissioner Wallstrom states: "I have stopped guessing when the moratorium would be lifted. We have put in place the legal framework... but some member states are opposed to GMOs [genetically modified organisms] and they will try to move the goal posts. They will try to find another obstacle."
CLAIM: "Recently two cotton seed oils for food use have been placed on the market in the EU following authorization." -- Statement of the European Commission, May 13, 2003
-- The two cotton seed products contain no GMOs, because they are highly processed oils derived from modified cotton. They did not go through the approval procedure requiring assent of EU member states. Instead, the U.K. notified the products as being equivalent to conventional cottonseed oils, and the European Commission simply acknowledged that conclusion.
CLAIM: "It must be recalled that the US has so far opposed the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which has been signed by over 100 countries..." -- European Commission, May 13, 2003
The EU is trying to change the subject. The Protocol provides that parties will have approval regimes for GMOs. The United States does not object to regulatory procedures for agricultural biotech products. The problem is that the EU has refused to use its own regulatory procedures, and has allowed individual member states to defy European law by banning products that have received EU approval. The Cartagena Protocol provides no basis for such a flagrant violation of multilateral rules, EU law, sound science, and good regulatory practice. Indeed, the Cartagena Protocol calls for basing regulatory decisions on scientific risk assessments - something the EU has entirely failed to do.
(end fact sheet)