WTO consultation over GMOs: EU reiterates its authorisation system is in accordance with WTO rules

June 23, 2003

Brussels, 19 June 2003

The EU has today held consultations with the USA and Argentina over its authorisation system for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). During the consultations the EU has underlined its legitimate right to establish a regulatory regime to ensure that GMOs are only put on the market on the basis of a careful assessment of risks. It has also stressed that all applications for marketing of GMOs are currently being assessed on the basis of the EU regulatory regime in place. Finally, the EU has stressed that each application is being considered on its own merits, on the basis of the EU regulatory framework.

The consultations were carried out constructively. The EU responded to all the questions from the USA and Argentina on both the EU regulatory framework for GMOs and the status of pending applications for approval.

The arguments developed by the EU include the following:

  • The EU, just like any WTO Member, has a legitimate right to establish a regulatory regime to ensure that GMOs are only put on the market on the basis of a careful assessment of risks, appropriate control and monitoring measures, and proper information to consumers.

  • All GMOs applications are being assessed on the basis of the new EU regulatory framework which entered into place in October 2002. The procedures are running as expected.

  • Each application is and will be considered on its merits on the basis of the EU's regulatory framework. WTO litigation would certainly not influence this process.

On 13 May 2002 the US announced its intention to request WTO consultations with the EU over EU's authorisation system for GMOs, together with Argentina, Canada and Egypt. It also announced that other countries expressing support for this case by joining it as third parties included: Australia, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Uruguay.

For transparency reasons, EU has accepted all the requests from WTO Members wishing to participate in the consultations as third parties, even if a number of them are not growing or exporting any GMOs.

It is however noted that:

  • To date Egypt has not requested WTO consultations

  • To date Honduras and El Salvador have not requested third party status;

  • A number of countries such as Peru, New Zealand or Australia, maintain in their legislation restrictions on GMOs including general moratoria on approvals.
It is noted that the EU has approved more GMOs than any of the third parties in the consultations.

For an overview of the EU's system of authorisation please click:



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DN: IP/03/859 Date: 20/06/2003

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