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Canada and European Communities End WTO Dispute on GMOs

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Canada and European Communities End WTO Dispute on Genetically Modified Organisms - Jack Cooper, Food Industry Environmental Network http://www.fien.com The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today announced that Canada and the European Communities (EC) have agreed to end a six-year World Trade Organization dispute regarding the approval and marketing of biotechnology products, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Resolving this dispute means improved market access for commercially produced Canadian agricultural GMO products, particularly canola seed. “Today’s resolution on GMOs shows that the WTO dispute settlement process works,” said Minister Day. “Canadian canola producers now have greater access to European markets. In ending this long-standing dispute, the European Communities has committed to an ongoing dialogue with Canada on biotechnology that will continue to help improve market access and avoid unnecessary obstacles to trade. This is positive news for Canadian producers of all agricultural GMO products.” “Canadian farmers are the best in the world at producing healthy, high-quality canola,” said the Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “Our government always stands up for Canadian farm families, and it is good to see that the European Communities is implementing the WTO panel’s ruling. Reopened access to the European Communities means Canadian farm families will have more buyers bidding on their canola.” In 2003, Canada, the United States and Argentina launched separate WTO challenges to the EC’s delays in approving GMOs. Under the mutually agreed solution between Canada and the EC, officials will meet twice a year to proactively discuss issues related to biotechnology and the trade in agriculture and agri-food products. Through these discussions, Canada will continue to promote the interests of Canadian farmers and exporters. In the early 1990’s, before European countries began restricting imports of genetically modified products, Canadian canola exports to the EC showed increasingly strong potential, peaking at $425 million in 1994. ******************* The text of the EC News Release follows The European Union and Canada have today signed in Geneva a final settlement of the WTO dispute that Canada brought against the EU in May 2003 regarding the application of its legislation on biotech products. The mutually agreed solution provides for the establishment of a regular dialogue on issues of mutual interest on agriculture biotechnology. The EU and Canada will notify this settlement to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body as a mutually agreed solution. EU Trade Commissioner Ashton said: "The mutually agreed solution with Canada is a clear sign that this type of dialogue works. I hope we can follow the same constructive approach with Argentina and the United States." EC regulatory procedures on genetically modified organisms are working normally, as evidenced by 21 authorisations since the date of establishment of the WTO panel. The European Commission has held regular discussions on biotech-related issues with the three complainants in this case – Canada, Argentina and the United States - since the adoption of the WTO panel report in 2006. The settlement reached with Canada provides for bi-annual meetings between competent services of the European Commission and Canadian authorities on agricultural biotechnology market access issues of mutual interest, including: For more on dispute settlement at the WTO see http://ec.europa.eu/trade/issues/respectrules/dispute/index_en.htm