28/11/2003

Varias organizaciones agrarias norteamericanas alimentarias solicitan a EEUU que demande a la UE ante la Organización Mundial del Comercio por las normas de etiquetado y trazabilidad de los OMG

22 organizaciones agrarias y de la industria agroalimentaria de EEUU han solicitado a la administración norteamericana que inicie un contencioso comercial contra la Unión Europea por sus reglas de etiquetado y trazabilidad de los OMG.

Actualmente, EEUU y la UE mantiene un litigio por la llamada moratoria de facto, que es el parón administrativo en la aprobación de nuevas variedades OMG que la UE mantiene desde hace años. Precisamente la entrada en vigor de las reglas de etiquetado y trazabilidad era lo que algunos países solicitaban para que levantaran su bloqueo y finalizase la moratoria, algo que se debería producir en este mismo mes de diciembre con la aprobación de una variedad OMG de maíz dulce.

Para las organizaciones norteamericanas, los requisitos de las nuevas normas de la UE suponen unos sobrecostes injutificados, que en la práctica implican una distorsión de los mercados y una barrera comercial no arancelaria.


November 25, 2003

The Honorable Robert Zoellick
United States Trade Representative
600 17 th Street, NW
Washington , D.C. 20508

Dear Ambassador Zoellick:

On October 18, 2003 , regulations were published in the Official Journal of the European Union (EU) establishing new requirements for the traceability and labeling of food and feed products and safety assessments for food and feed produced through biotechnology. These requirements are non-tariff trade barriers that violate World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations and will result in significant losses to the U.S. food and agriculture industry. The undersigned organizations urge you to take immediate action to prevent further disruption of U.S. agricultural commodity and food product exports to the EU resulting from these regulations.

The new regulations clearly violate the EU’s WTO obligations. The Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade agreements (TBT) require that import restrictions not discriminate between imported and domestic products and not be overly restrictive to trade. The SPS agreement also requires that any measures which have the effect of restricting trade must be based on scientific principles. The new EU regulations are not consistent with these provisions and clearly discriminate against imported products. In addition, the requirements would set a precedent for process-based traceability and labeling that could create potentially insurmountable technical barriers to trade and discourage adoption and acceptance of new technologies, including biotechnology, around the globe.

Products of modern biotechnology must undergo intensive scientific and regulatory review before being approved to enter the EU market, and the EU has not identified any science-based risks associated with approved biotech products. Despite this, the regulations use the “Precautionary Principle” and other non-science based factors to justify the implementation of costly and trade-restrictive traceability and labeling requirements. The United States Government consistently has opposed the use of such criteria for restricting trade and must challenge EU regulations that embody these concepts.

Finally, it is important that the Administration challenge the EU’s new regulations in anticipation that other countries will come under pressure to adopt similar requirements and restrictions. Just as a number of other large importers subsequently adopted biotech labeling policies after the EU enacted its first labeling regulation, influence will be exerted for other countries to adopt trade-restrictive traceability and discriminatory, process-based labeling regimes. Further, international organizations such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission will have license to adopt similar requirements as global standards. U.S. agricultural commodity and food exports will be very negatively affected by these developments.

The U.S. government must take every possible action to confront these trade-distorting policies and prevent further erosion of U.S. agriculture and food export markets in the EU and other countries. Now that the EU’s regulations have been finalized, we believe it is time to engage the EU in a WTO dispute settlement proceeding, and we urge that you initiate such action immediately. In addition, a review of the impact these requirements will have on U.S. agricultural commodity and food exports by the International Trade Commission should be requested to quantify economic losses to U.S. farmers, exporters, and food companies.

Our organizations appreciate your strong support of biotechnology and pledge our assistance to help you address this critical issue.

Sincerely,

American Farm Bureau Federation
American Feed Industry Association
American Meat Institute
American Seed Trade Association
American Soybean Association
Biotechnology Industry Organization
Corn Refiners Association
CropLife America
Grocery Manufacturers of America
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Corn Growers Association
National Cotton Council
National Grain and Feed Association
National Food Processors Association
National Grain Trade Council
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Renderers Association
North American Millers Association
U.S. Grains Council
USA Rice
Wheat Export Trade Education Committee

cc: The Honorable Ann Veneman, USDA

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