PANNA: Action Alert: WTO, Hands Off Our Food!


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Action Alert: WTO, Hands Off Our Food!
July 20, 2004

Join the "Bite Back the WTO" signature campaign against the U.S. attempt to use the World Trade Organization (WTO) to force genetically engineered food on the European Union (EU). In May of 2004, the campaign presented the WTO with 100,000 signatures from people in 90 nations, arguing against a U.S. legal challenge that would allow biotech companies to gain a foothold in the EU. The on-line petition continues to collect signatures and aims to deliver even more objections to the WTO before the case is settled. Sign the petition at, http://www.bite-back.org.

A May 2003 legal complaint filed by the U.S., Argentina and Canada argues that the European Union's informal moratorium on GE food is an illegal barrier to free trade. If the U.S. wins the dispute the EU will either face economic sanctions or must accept more genetically engineered (GE) food. Such a ruling would also make it more difficult for developing countries to prevent importation of GE crops or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), allowing biotech corporations easier access to new markets in the global South.

The Bite Back coalition argues that people and their governments -- not the WTO -- should decide what to eat and what to farm, and that decisions about the health and environmental risks of GE food should be made in accordance with the United Nations Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety. Signed in June of 2003, the Biosafety Protocol recognizes the risks of GMOs and allows importing governments to apply the precautionary principal when considering whether to let " live" GMOs like seeds across their borders. The Protocol also recommends that all shipments be accompanied by appropriate documentation and labeled " may contain GMOs."

The WTO complaint was put forward as the EU was about to lift its moratorium on GE crops, which suggests that the GE labeling and traceability legislation underway in the EU may have been its intended target. Another target of the legal action was the Biosafety Protocol itself, then being ratified around the world. Many view the complaint as an attempt to intimidate the growing rejection of GMOs by developing countries.

The "Bite Back: WTO Hands Off Our Food!" campaign is organized by Friends of the Earth, together with ActionAid Alliance, Public Services International, Public Citizen, the International Gender and Trade Network, the French Confédération Paysanne, the Indian Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, and is joined by more than 200 other organizations. The campaign's aim is to collect thousands of signatures to deliver to the WTO from people around the world, demanding that the WTO dismiss the complaint and uphold health and environmental standards and people's right to say no to genetically modified food.

Sign the complaint at, http://www.bite-back.org.
Source/Contact: Bite Back: WTO Hands Off Our Food!, Friends of the Earth Europe, http://www.bite-back.org, http://www.foeeurope.org.


PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don't always get coverage by the mainstream media. It's produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.

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