Since May 2003, the United States, joined by Canada and Argentina, has pursued a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement process against the European Union (EU) regarding its de facto moratorium banning biogenetically altered food crops.
The main opponents of such crops include the usual “environmental” organizations for whom any progress toward eliminating famine and disease is regarded as an increase in the Earth’s human population. If you’re a member of the Earth Liberation Front, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Center for Food Safety, and the Organic Consumers Association, among others, the scientific advances of biotechnology are bad news.
If you are a member of the human race, however, genetically-modified foods (GMOs) means (1) an increase in agricultural productivity wherever such crops are grown; (2) crops that can resist the effects of drought, a common cause of crop failures; (3) the bioengineered increase of nutrients and a decrease of saturated fats in various food crops; and (4) the reduction of the use of insecticides and herbicides. Farmers will tell you GMOs, in addition to reducing the amount of water needed to grow certain crops, contribute to the reduction of soil erosion caused by agriculture.
So why is the European Union refusing to permit the importation and use of GMOs? Alex Avery of the Hudson Institute probably said it best when he described it as “technological apartheid.” While the Europeans are well fed, the fate of people in Africa and other Third World nations are of little importance to them for purely economic reasons. Avery points out that, “More than half of the EU’s collective budget is gobbled up by farm subsidy costs, so Europe has done all that it can to avoid productivity-enhancing technologies for cost savings.”
In the interest of keeping GMO crops from America and other nations out of Europe, the EU has declared that such crops may pose a health risk. They say that genetically modified crops, if grown in Europe, might “contaminate” organic crops. Baloney! For all the reasons stated above, GMO crops not only do not pose a threat to organic crops, except in terms of greater yields, they hold the potential for the virtual elimination of famines that cause the deaths of millions worldwide every year.
The EU represents the fourth largest market for U.S. agricultural exports. The earnings were projected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at $7 billion for 2005, nearly 12% of all the U.S. agricultural exports. The main export products are soybeans, tobacco, and animal feed, including corn gluten.
To date, the EU has not offered a scintilla of scientific evidence to justify the market bans imposed by some member states. The whole point of the World Trade Organization is to end frivolous bans in order to facilitate, well, world trade! The WTO even has an Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures that requires “sufficient scientific evidence” to support trade-restrictive regulations on crops and food products.”
Speaking in May 2003, President Bush said, “Our partners in Europe