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The United States has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), complaining that Europe is unfairly and illegally banning genetically modified foods.

The US is arguing that Europe is ignoring scientific evidence that shows genetically modified foods are no more harmful than foods created through traditional means.

"The EU has disregarded the advice of its own scientific committees and its own commissioners," said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick. He said that if Europe does not lift its moratorium on GM foods within 60 days, the US will ask that the WTO form a panel to resolve the complaint.

Argentina, Canada, and Egypt all signed the US complaint.

"Farmers here and around the world must be assured that their products won't be rejected simply because they used biotechnology," said US Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman.

However, the European Union maintains that its moratorium on GM foods complies with all trade regulations. EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy pointed out that there actually is no official ban, but rather a series of decisions by member companies to stop accepting imported GM foods because of consumer pressure.

The Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) released a statement supporting the US move. "GMA believes regulatory policies for biotech products both here and abroad must be based on sound science," said GMA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Mary Sophos. "The EU's de facto ban on new biotech crop approvals defies the conclusions reached by numerous scientific bodies - including the European Commission - that these crops are as safe, if not safer than, their conventional counterparts."
KC's View:
Well, things are just so peachy between the US and Europe these days, it is hard to imagine a little thing like an argument over biotech causing any kind of significant harm to the relationship.


Actually, this is likely to exacerbate already existing tensions between the US and the EU.

While we understand why this is an important issue to US farmers, who would like to use some biotechnology without fear that their crops will be banned from the European continent, we do have a question.

Even if the EU ban is based on lousy science -- or, to be more accurate, science that we don’t agree with -- exactly why does the United States have a right to force them to buy and sell biotech foods?

And, when you think about it, if it is consumer pressure that forced a de facto ban on GM foods, what makes anyone in the US think that simply forcing stores there to carry such products will result in anyone actually buying them?

Even if the US is completely in the right from a scientific and economic point of view, and even if the EU is incredibly, inarguably wrong, is there any way in which the filing of this complain won’t be considered another example of American arrogance?

Just curious…