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Corn+Soybean Digest

ASA Reaffirms Support for WTO Biotech Case Against the European Union

"ASA strongly supports the U.S. Trade Representative and the Bush Administration in the U.S. WTO action against the European Union because the EU’s actions and proposals are highly discriminatory and commercially unfeasible," says ASA President Dwain Ford, a soybean producer from Kinmundy, IL. "Half the value of the U.S. soybean crop is exported to global markets that were built over the past 50 years as a result of ASA’s international marketing efforts and the diligence of the U.S. government to promote fair trade."

Earlier this month, the United States filed a World Trade Organization (WTO) case against the European Union’s (EU) illegal five-year moratorium on approval of food and feed products enhanced through biotechnology.

"This WTO action by the United States is not directed against our EU-based soybean customers, but it could in fact serve to help them," Ford says. "Since the advent of crop biotechnology, ASA has maintained a close and continuous dialog with U.S. soybean buyers in the EU and around the world. These buyers have told us they understand the benefits and safety of biotech-enhanced soybeans.

ASA employs more than 80 international staff and consultants who work in 10 overseas marketing offices, including an office located in Brussels, Belgium. Some EU buyers have expressed to ASA their disappointment at the unwillingness of some EU officials to take a leadership role in supporting science-based regulations. Countries that have adopted clear, science-based regulatory systems for approvals and labeling of biotech products are generally those with the highest level of consumer acceptance of the technology.

"The United States has been patient long enough," Ford says. "Now it is time to take a stand against the EU’s deliberate attempts to deny U.S. farmers access to markets in Europe. The U.S. WTO action is directed at the failure of European governments to live up to their trade obligations."

ASA advocates that decisions regarding approval of products of agricultural biotechnology must be based on objective risk analyses, not political pressures, and must be consistent with the requirements in the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS).

"U.S. soybean producers, biotechnology providers and the United States government exhausted all other possibilities to settle this matter with the EU before taking this WTO action," Ford says. "Now it is in the court of world opinion whether the future of food safety will be determined by the agendas of special interest groups or by a science-based regulatory approvals process."

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