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Canada ends EU row over GM products

Canada is the first nation to settle a dispute with the EU over the importation of genetically modified (GM) products. In 2003, Canada, Argentina and the US complained to the World Trade Organization (WTO) about the EU's imposition of a six-year de facto moratorium on approving new GM crops and food. The WTO responded the following year by lifting the moratorium after finding that it violated global trade rules, and the parties entered discussions. Canadian International Trade Minister Stockwell Day says the settlement is positive news for the country's producers, as it will improve market access for all locally produced GM products, particularly canola seed. Under the agreement, EU officials will meet Canadian authorities twice a year to discuss issues affecting agbiotech, including GM product approvals and commercial outlook. Argentina and the US have yet to agree on a solution. Canada may have been first, according to Nathalie Moll, director of Green Biotechnology at EuropaBio, because it has no products awaiting EU approval, and thus no legal basis to continue the dispute. Meanwhile, 70 global crop biotech products await EU approval. Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, executive vice president of food and agriculture for the US Biotechnology Industry Organization, says, “Trade problems will continue to exist until Europe has a science-based, timely and predictable approval process, which could be achieved if the EU simply followed its own laws and regulations.”

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Dorey, E. Canada ends EU row over GM products. Nat Biotechnol 27, 788 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt0909-788a

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