The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFB) has issued a policy statement urging the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to “initiate a retaliation process” against the European Union over its de facto moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops. Despite a 2006 World Trade Organization ruling that found fault with EU approval procedures for GM crops, the bloc has allegedly failed to implement “a timely and predictable regulatory process,” resulting in “substantial damage” to U.S. agriculture. Although AFB initially agreed to suspend formal action in favor of normalizing trade, the industry group has since reversed that decision. According to AFB, “If the EU does not immediately begin to make timely, science-based regulatory decisions on pending and future applications, soybean exports also are at serious risk.” See AFB Press Release, July 26, 2010.
Meanwhile, the European Commission (EC) recently approved six GM corn varieties via “the usual and standard” authorization procedure, which cleared the crops for importation, processing, and food and feed uses, but not for cultivation. In a July 28, 2010, statement, the commission noted that all submissions, including a renewal for insect-resistant Bt11 maize, received “a positive safety assessment from the European Food Safety Authority.” Made in the absence of a member state consensus, the EC authorizations are reportedly valid for 10 years, “and any products produced from this GM maize will be subject to the EU’s strict labeling and traceability rules.”