Friends of the Earth Europe

September 16, 2002 – Friends of the Earth Europe today called on EU Trade Commissioner Lamy and EU governments to target US exported genetically modified (GM) foods and energy intensive products in retaliation for the US violation of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules on Foreign Sales Corporations. This call follows the European Commission’s decision to publish last friday an initial list of US products that will be targeted for countermeasures.

Following the WTO’s authorisation to the EU to impose countermeasures on US imported goods, worth US$ 4,043, the Commission’s brand-new list includes a wide range of products, including agricultural goods, textiles, iron and steel. The European Commission has asked European business to send their comments and views on which products 100% additional duties should be raised.

Commenting Alexandra Wandel of Friends of the Earth said:

‘We call on Commissioner Lamy and European governments to consider European consumer concerns and the protection of our global environment when targeting US products. Genetically modified food and animal feed products as well as energy intensive products seems to be the obvious choice to make a move towards fairer and more sustainable transatlantic trade”.

Friends of the Earth believes that the EU should ensure the right to choose GM-free food. Therefore the de-facto moratorium, which blocks new imports of GMO’s, should remain in place until at least mandatory labelling of all GM-food and GM-animal feed is fully operational. According to FoEE, the countermeasures on US imported goods form another justification to strengthen the moratorium. The countermeasures should target US products such as vegetable oils which are currently on the EU market without mandatory labelling.

Despite consumer’s concerns against GM foods, the US has threatened legal action under World Trade Organisation rules against European GM legislation. Now that the US administration has revealed that WTO rules count for little, FoEE calls on the EU to stand firm on GMOs.

EU governments should also consider targeting specifically high energy intensive products. The US rejection of the Kyoto Protocol is unfair and puts European business at a disadvantage. With Bush’s increasing rejection of international agreements that are essential to protect our environment, Europe should have every right to penalise US goods for the pollution they cause.

Alexandra Wandel, Trade and Sustainability Coordinator, tel: 02-542 01 85
Geert Ritsema, GMO campaigner, tel: 02-542 01 81, tel: 31-6 29 00 59 08