BRUSSELS (BELGIUM) – Attempts by the United States administration to force Europe to accept Genetically Modified (GM) food and crops received a serious blow after Egypt announced that it would not be part of a World Trade Organisation challenge to the European Union’s de facto moratorium on approving new GM licenses.
The Egyptian Government says that it has taken its decision because it recognizes “the need to preserve adequate and effective consumer and environmental protection.”
On 13 May the United States said that it would be joined by Argentina, Canada and Egypt in filing a World Trade Organisation (WTO) case against Europe over “its illegal five-year moratorium on approving agricultural biotech products”.
But the Egyptian Government says that it has decided “not to become a party” to the WTO complaint.
In a letter dated May 27 the Egyptian ambassador to the European Union wrote that “The Government of Egypt took this decision in conscious emulation of the need to preserve adequate and effective consumer and environmental protection, and with the desire to reduce further distortions and impediments to international trade that may result due to the further pursuit of this matter within the WTO” .
Europeans are concerned about the threat that GM crops pose to food, farming and the environment. There are also fears about the long-term health impacts from eating GM food. Opinion polls show that 70% of the European public don’t want GM food and 94% want to be able to choose whether or not they eat it (Eurobarometer 2001).
Friends of the Earth Europe’s GM campaigner Geert Ritsema said:
“We’re delighted that Egypt has withdrawn from this US attempt to force GM food and crops into Europe. Countries should be allowed to choose what they eat and what they grow in their fields. The United States should withdraw its WTO challenge, and stop trying to bully Europe over GMOs.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. A copy of the letter sent to the European Consumers’ Organisation (BEUC) by the Egyptian ambassador to the European Union is available.
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT IN BRUSSELS :
Friends of the Earth International, Juan Lopez: +32-477-391496 (m)
Friends of the Earth Europe, Geert Ritseema: + 31-6-290 05908 (m)
European Consumers’ Organisation (BEUC), Jim Murray + 32-2- 743159