Saturday

6th Mar 2021

WTO rules against EU in biotech row

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has indicated a European moratorium on genetically modified products violated international rules as it was not justified by scientific evidence.

In an interim report unveiled on Tuesday (7 February), the Geneva-based organisation argued that the EU was wrong in preventing the use of new modified varieties of corn, soybeans and cotton between 1998 and 2004 on its market.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • New varieties of corn, soybeans and cotton should not have been banned in the EU, says the WTO (Photo: Notat)

The complaint against Brussels was filed by the US, Argentina and Canada in 2003.

But the WTO also blasted Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg for retaining their separate national bans on the GMO crops, even those approved by the European Commission.

The US officials, biotech industry and farm groups have welcomed the move.

"We’re hoping that it is going to send a strong message to other WTO members that biotech approvals must be science-based and can’t take the amount of time that the EU has taken in approving their biotech products," said Michelle Gorman from the American Farm Bureau Federation, according to FT Europe.

The European Commission hinted it would wait until the final decision by the global trade watchdog later this year before commenting on it.

But environmentalist groups have already expressed their disappointment.

Alexandra Wandel, from Friends of the Earth Europe, commented "The WTO, with its secretive decision-making processes, is unfit to decide what we should eat or what farmers should grow," hinting that the organisation "unfairly favours big business."

Some 70 percent of EU citizens oppose the introduction of new GM products in the union's farm markets.

EU states defy Brussels to back Austrian GMO ban

EU member states have for the second time snubbed the European Commission by backing an Austrian ban on two genetically modified maize products, which the commission says violates international trade rules.

Luxembourg tax scandal may prompt EU action

An investigation into Luxembourg's tax regime has uncovered how the Italian mafia, the Russian underworld, and billionaires attempt to stash away their wealth. The European Commission has put itself on standby amid suggestions changes to EU law may be needed.

Investigation

Portugal vs Germany clash on EU corporate tax avoidance

Portugal's taking over the EU presidency puts the tax transparency law for corporations - which has been fought over for years - to a vote in the Council of Ministers. The resistance of the German government has failed.

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. China and Russia abusing corona for geopolitics, Lithuania says
  2. Worries on Europe's infection surge, after six-week drop
  3. EU wants large firms to report on gender pay-gap or face fines
  4. EU Commission cannot hold Frontex to account
  5. Orbán leaves EPP group - the beginning of a long endgame
  6. 'Corporate due diligence'? - a reality check before EP votes
  7. Austrian ex-minister joins list of EU's pro-Kremlin lobbyists
  8. Internal Frontex probe to deliver final report this week

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us