Blog: Unbridled backslapping over WTO GM ruling

Catherine Sleep | 8 February 2006

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) this week sided with the US and other countries that support biotechnology by preliminarily ruling that the European Union had contravened WTO trade rules by banning imports of genetically modified food. Cue much chuffed backslapping on the part of US farm, agribusiness, biotechnology industry and government officials.

Yet their victory may be hollow. The moratorium in question actually ended nearly two years ago, so the ruling will trigger no immediate change. While it’s always nice to be told you were right, being right does not translate into sales. Significantly, the ruling has nothing to do with the perceived environmental or food safety of GM crops and ingredients, which is the real stumbling block in convincing European markets to embrace biotechnology.

I suspect that many European consumers’ first response to finding out that the EU Commission’s actions have been deemed improper will be to rush to its defence. Rightly or wrongly, and there is a body of evidence to suggest the latter, many consumers feel deep suspicion towards GM foods and support the cautious approach adopted by their elected representatives.

There's more indepth discussion of the impact of the ruling here:

WTO ruling puts spotlight back on GM


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