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Why did the US want to leverage trade pressure on the EU for not supporting GMO crops as referenced in The Guardian 2011?

Submitted by: wheatwister


Expert response from Dr. Stuart Smyth

Assistant Professor, Department of Bioresource Policy, Business and Economics, University of Saskatchewan

Friday, 11/05/2018 10:05

The origins of this question go back 20 years. In 1998, the European Union announced it would put a moratorium on the importing of GM crops starting in June 1999, arguing that risk assessments had either not been done correctly or not done to a sufficient scope as to determine the safety of GM crops. Risk assessments are a science-based process that have been standardized and globally accepted, so this argument was not supported by scientific evidence. Argentina, Canada and the USA were the leading GM crop producing countries at this time, so they filed a case with the World Trade Organization (WTO) arguing that the EU was violating international trade laws by establishing the moratorium. See this link for a summary of the case.

In 2006, the WTO ruled that the EU had indeed violated international trade rules by imposing their moratorium. Because trade had been negatively affected between the EU and Argentina, Canada and the USA for the period of time from 1999 to 2003, these three countries were allowed to negotiate trade retaliation measures against products that the EU would export to each of these countries. What this means is that each of these countries were able to negotiate taxes on food products that the EU would export to each of the three countries that would provide income to each country and would remain in place until such time as an equivalent value as to the lost trade was equaled.

The date of the emails identified in the article by The Guardian would correspond to the period between the WTO’s 2006 ruling and the resolution of retaliation between the EU and the USA in 2008. Given that the article identifies that France was moving to once again ban GM crops, such as corn in 2007, this would once again be a direct violation of the WTO ruling from 2006. Ultimately, the USA wasn’t trying to leverage trade pressure against the EU, they were allowed to do so by the WTO as a way to respond to the EU GM crop moratorium.