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EU Decides Not to Appeal WTO Biotech Ruling

The EU will not challenge the World Trade Organization's ruling that the EU illegally blocked GMOs.

The European Union will not appeal the World Trade Organization ruling that the EU illegally blocked genetically modified food imports between 1998 and 2004. 

"The European Commission has decided not to appeal the GMO decision as the current regulatory provisions are not in any way affected by the judgment," says Peter Power, a European Commission spokesman.

The decision does not directly impact current GMO policy in the EU. Because the case dealt with policies in place before 2004, Power claims its use is only "historical interest."

But Peter Allgeier, U.S. ambassador to the WTO, points out that some approval applications sent to the EU remain in limbo after more than 10 years. "Many commercially important products continue to face unjustified, politically motivated delays," he says.

GMO producers in the U.S., Canada and Argentina brought the case against the EU originally. Gretchen Hamel, a U.S. Trade Representative spokeswoman, would not speculate whether the U.S. would ask for another WTO examination into whether the EU has done enough.

European consumers continue to be suspicious of GMOs.

"This sets a dangerous precedent for future environmental disputes. It is not for the WTO to decide what we eat or how we protect our environment," says Adrian Bebb of environmental group Friends of the Earth Europe. "Whatever the WTO says, Europeans will continue to reject genetically modified foods."

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