Biotech Trade Challenge a Boon for Developing World

Washington, D.C., May 13, 2003—The Competitive Enterprise Institute applauds today’s announcement by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative that it, along with Canada, Argentina, Egypt, and nine other countries, will file a World Trade Organization case against the European Union over its moratorium on approving new biotech crops. CEI was joined in emphasizing the importance of free trade in agricultural products by a distinguished panel of international scientists at a briefing this afternoon.

“The EU’s biotech moratorium is a clear and blatant violation of its obligations under trade treaties it has signed and ratified,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute Director of Food Safety Policy Gregory Conko. “More importantly, it has hindered the ability of poorer countries to take a part in the biotechnology revolution, shutting off access to crops that could help address food security concerns.”

Although removing this hindrance to exporting U.S. agricultural products will be welcomed by domestic growers, the much greater benefit will be to allow less developed countries to adopt higher yielding varieties without the fear of forfeiting lucrative European markets. “We’ve already developed biotech crop varieties specifically for resource-poor farmers,” said Dr. Ariel Alvarez-Morales of Mexico’s Center for Research and Advanced Studies. “But scientifically baseless regulations in Europe and elsewhere have kept them in the lab instead of the field where they can do some good.”  

Dr. Alvarez-Morales was one of the scientists assembled today for CEI’s briefing on agricultural biotechnology and the needs of the developing world, Does the European Biotech Moratorium Harm the Developing World?: The Problem of Import Restrictions on Genetically Engineered Food.  Other speakers included Professor C.S. Prakash of Tuskegee University; Professor Diran Makinde, Dean of the Vinda University School of Agriculture in South Africa; and T.J. Buthelezi, a biotech cotton farmer from the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. 

The Associated Press picked up Conko’s comments. Click here for the AP story.

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