Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

Networking For A Better Future - News and perspectives you may not find in the media

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February 09, 2006

WTO Orders: Europeans Eat GMO - Africans Next In Line Vow To Resist

8 February 2006 - The World Trade Organization has agreed with major GMO producing countries US, Canada and Argentina that Europe was violating international free trade agreements in resisting the import of genetically modified corn and soybeans. The argument that won the day was that a ban, according to the GM producers, is not "scientifically justified". (WTO rules against EU in pivotal GM case)

The EU Commission maintains that it never did issue a formal ban, but even the informal moratorium in force for a few years seems to have been enough to prompt WTO enforcement action. Although Europe has since approved seven varieties of genetically modified crops and, according to a Commission spokesperson, is the major importer or GM-based food and animal feed, the technical violation of free trade rules may still lead to sanctions.

Codex Alimentarius may be a double-edged sword

Apparently, the case against the EU was filed in 2003, only weeks after the approval of several Codex Alimentarius guidelines on genetically modified food crops. There is concern that similar Codex guidelines recently approved for food supplements, might lead to an undermining of US laws allowing the free sale of vitamins and other food supplements. This article explains.

"The WTO has increasingly been using Codex texts as the benchmark when ruling on international trade disputes, and, as such, we believe that the WTO's ruling on GM foods could have profound implications regarding the future enforcement of the Codex Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements."

An editorial in the Pitt News says that in the US, many foods contain GM derived ingredients, but there is no labeling requirement so consumers have no way to be sure about what they are eating. It sums up the issue with the following concluding statement:

"Allowing the deep-pocketed companies that manufacture GMOs to control the world's agriculture and forcing countries to expand their diet to include GMOs is flat-out wrong. The WTO needs to back away from the issue and realize that some circumstances fall outside the mandates of free trade. Countries have a right to choose what they consume".

- - -

February 2006: Paul Anthony Taylor from the UK reports that Friends of the Earth have just obtained, and published on the internet, the full WTO interim report on the GMO trade dispute.

References to Codex and Codex texts can be found on pages 47, 48, 121, 137, 138, 154, 181, 190, 192, 196, 214, 215, 254, 258, 259, 301 of the descriptive report (pdf) and on pages 5, 7, 60, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 116, 119, 121, 136, 138, 248, 299, 378, 538, 550, 686, 728, 729, of the findings (pdf).

Examination of the above pages shows conclusively that Codex GM guidelines, various other Codex standards and texts, Codex definitions, Codex risk analysis principles, Codex evaluation procedures and even the Codex Procedural Manual itself were crucial to the outcome of this dispute, and were seen by the WTO Panel as representing an international consensus.

As such there can no longer be any doubt that because of the existence of the Codex Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements, the current US law on supplements DSHEA would definitely be at risk of a forcible change if the US were to become embroiled in a trade dispute at the WTO involving dietary supplements.

Moreover, it can now clearly be seen that the threat of WTO sanctions provides the political and economic pressure for all countries to adopt Codex guidelines and standards into their national legislation. For any countries that don't comply these same Codex guidelines and standards are simply used as evidence against them at the WTO.

- - -

Don't label it

The US has consistently opposed the idea that genetically modified foods should be identified by clearly labeling them. Modified (recombinant) bovine growth hormone is a case in point. An organic dairy was sued by Monsanto to change its labels on milk cartons to remove reference to the fact that their milk was "growth hormone free".

Meanwhile, African countries who have refused to accept GM grains shipped as aid feel they are next in line for the forceful treatment. The WTO's "dispute resolution" panel, a court established specifically for enforcing free trade rules without regard to peoples' or countries' wishes would be just the instrument to force them to change their ways.

However, there appears to be strong resistance, according to a recent report from South Africa:

US may press Africa on GMOs, Africans vow to resist

Reuters, 8 February, 2006

LUSAKA - The U.S. may push Africa to accept gene-altered (GMO) food now that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled the EU broke rules by barring GMO foods and seeds, but Africans vowed on Wednesday to resist.

"We do not want GM (genetically modified) foods and our hope is that all of us can continue to produce non-GM foods," Zambian Agriculture Minister Mundia Sikatana told Reuters in Lusaka.

"The decision by the WTO does nothing to change our stand in this matter."

The WTO ruled on Tuesday that the European Union and six member states had broken trade rules by barring entry to genetically modified crops and foods.

A U.S. trade official confirmed findings of the preliminary ruling, contained in a confidential report sent only to the parties. The closely watched verdict addressed a complaint brought against the EU by leading GMO producers the United States, Argentina and Canada.

The European Union's opponents asserted that the moratorium, which Brussels argued was never official, hurt their exports and was not based on science.

Manufacturers of the biotech seeds, designed to increase yields and resist pests better than normal seeds, maintain they are safe for human consumption.

European consumers, fearing the effects of "Frankenstein foods" have resisted them. Even African countries facing food shortages, such as Zambia, have refused to accept gene-altered food donations, arguing their safety had not been ascertained.

Those countries that take in GMO-food demand stringent certifications and milling before it arrives on their borders.

Regional heavyweight South Africa is one of the few countries on the continent to embrace the controversial technology.

Campaigners and analysts saw the U.S. using the World Trade Organization ruling to press Africans to accept GMO food imports on the basis that Europe, which has usually backed the obstinate African position, will itself have to take them.

"Politically, I think it is very clear that the U.S. will try and use this case to force GMOs into African markets. American industry is already saying that the result is a signal to the rest of the world," Daniel Mittler, trade adviser at Greenpeace International, told Reuters by telephone.

"They are implying that while the EU may be able to resist an outlawing of national bans on GMOs, developing countries will not and will have to open their markets," Mittler said.

Africans argue that better technology to increase irrigation, more widespread use of fertilizers and pesticides, and improved monitoring of market trends will help deliver improved harvests and defeat hunger.

"It is obvious to everyone that the U.S. will interpret the WTO ruling as a message to Africans that it is now time to eat GMOs and stop the noise-making ... after all, the EU has been put on a leash in the matter," said an agriculture consultant in Malawi, one of the
countries that often require food aid.

But Zambian minister Sikatana said there was no looking back: "We made a decision based on facts and those facts have not changed. We hope no one in Africa feels they have to change their views based on that ruling, it will not do."

See also related:

EU Steadfast in Rejecting Genetically Engineered Food, Despite WTO Pressure

GM Food Must Be Allowed into Europe, WTO Rules
A lengthy and complex preliminary ruling from the WTO said that a de facto Europe-wide ban, which prevented new corn, cotton and soybean products from entering the European market, was not based on scientific concerns

'WTO ruling on GM crops threat to India'
NEW DELHI, FEB 9: The civil society organisations and farmers groups in the country have expressed their anguish over the ruling of the WTO dispute settlement body against the European moratorium on genetically modified (GM)crops and food. The organisations have said that after this "unfortunate verdict US will become more aggressive in dumping GM food in India and the Third World, much against the will of the farmers and consumers in these

America's masterplan is to force GM food on the world
It is now clear that the real reason the US took Europe to the WTO court was was to make it easier for its companies to prise open regulatory doors in China, India, south-east Asia, Latin America and Africa, where most US exports now go. This is where millions of tonnes of US food aid heads, and where US GM companies are desperate to have access, buying up seed companies and schmoozing presidents and prime ministers.

Genetically Engineered Foods: Not a Healthy Choice
It is estimated that GMOs are present in 70 percent to 90 percent of our food. Eighty-five percent of the soy and the majority of the corn grown in the United States are genetically modified, as well as canola, cotton, zucchini, Hawaiian papaya and Quest tobacco. Food ingredients include corn syrup, corn starch, soy lecithin, vegetable oil, etc.

WTO vs. Europe: Less - and Also More - Than it Seems
As a political favor to its agribusiness allies in the Midwestern farm belt, the administration filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) seeking to overturn Europe's de facto five-year moratorium on approvals of new genetically engineered crop varieties. The governments of Argentina and Canada also signed on to the complaint; together these three countries grow roughly 80 percent of the world's genetically engineered crops.

EU told to speed up GM approvals
The US has urged the European Union to speed up its process for approving new genetically modified (GM) products. The call came after the World Trade Organisation publicly released its ruling that the EU acted illegally in banning GM imports from 1999 to 2004.


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Thursday February 9 2006
updated on Friday December 3 2010

URL of this article:


Related Articles

Food Safety: Codex Backs World GM Experiment - Could AFRICA Be Control?
Food is of crucial importance to good health. The international food code, also called CODEX ALIMENTARIUS, was set up in the 1960's, ostensibly to promote the safety of foods. But recently, Codex has come up with an extraordinary piece of advice: "Be careful about those nutrients." A Codex Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplement Guideline adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in Rome in July this year says just that. On... [read more]
September 15, 2005 - Sepp Hasslberger

Australia New Zealand consider GMO labelling
Australia is considering a law proposal that would institute a duty to label food ingredients so consumer could see whether they are about to eat genetically modified. This proposal pending in Australia would also affect New Zealand, if passed. The two countries decided in December last year to establish a single agency - Food Standards Australia New Zealand - to deal with health issues on both sides of the Tasman... [read more]
January 23, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

GM crops like thalidomide say insurance companies
Major agricultural insurance companies are refusing to underwrite risks of genetically modified crops in what appears to be a prescient way of avoiding future losses. Comments from the insurers liken the hidden liabilities of genetic modification with the desaster of Thalidomide, a drug which in the early sixties gave us thousands of deformed babies (who grew up into thousands of seriously handicapped adults) after great sales hype had convinced everyone,... [read more]
October 13, 2003 - Sepp Hasslberger

GMO - no thanks, say British
Britain has had its public consultation over the introduction of genetically modified foods and the growing of GM crops to produce them. The response was overwhelming as reported by The Independent's environment editor Michael McCarthy today. 85% of the respondents thought GM crops would benefit producers, rather than ordinary people and a similar percentage (84%) believed they would cause "unacceptable interference" with nature. The industry response from the umbrella body... [read more]
September 25, 2003 - Sepp Hasslberger

Are Genetically Modified Foods Really Safe?
Are Genetically Modified Foods Really Safe? In the absence of serious studies to answer that question, there is no way to tell. But there is plenty of evidence that tends to tip the scales towards a resounding NO. In his testimony to the Vermont State Agriculture Committee, transcribed with the title "Exposing the Dangers of Genetically Engineered Foods", Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception, argues that there is... [read more]
August 27, 2005 - Sepp Hasslberger

GM Food Safety: Royal Society Suppressed Study
Some years ago, I heard of the study of Dr. Arpad Pusztai, who found important safety issues connected with genetically modified foods in a three-year study - the first one designed for the express purpose of testing GM safety. Pusztai was ousted from his post after government intervention and the study was maligned in every possible way. How his study results were suppressed is interesting, but more than that -... [read more]
August 10, 2005 - Sepp Hasslberger




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