US Government threatens Croatian’s GMO moratorium with WTO action
Zagreb/Brussels/Vienna/Washington DC, Dec 10, 2001 - Environmental groups participating at a Roundtable on BioSafety organised by the Croatian Environment Ministry in Zagreb today denounced the US bullying of the Croatian Government against its plans to adopt a moratorium on GMOs. In June 2001, four Croatian ministries agreed on the text of a draft law to ban genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and products thereof until the Government a more specific regulatory framework is in place.
Since September, Croatia has been under increasing US pressure to drop the draft law. In a memo dated November 28 and addressed to the Ministry of Environment from the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb the U.S. tries to put trade before environmental protection stating “if such a ban is implemented, the U.S. Government must consider its rights under WTO.”
“It is outragous that the U.S. interferes in our policy-making by imposing their trade priorities over our environment and health protection efforts,” said Damjan Bogdanovic from the NGO Zelena Akcija (Green Action - Friends of the Earth Croatia). "Countries in the EU have adopted a moratorium on GMOs. I do not see why Croatia should be prevented from implementing similar measures.“ The moratorium in the EU was adopted in 1999 and has recently been confirmed to ensure that no GMOs are marketed until the new regulatory framework is in place. The EU has not approved any GMOs in the last three years.
The memo from the U.S. Embassy also asserts that biotech food products “have been demonstrated to be as safe as conventional food products in the U.S. and elsewhere.” However, U.S. groups acknowledge in a letter addressed to the Croatian Minister of Environment in response to this memo, that the U.S. regulatory framework and monitoring policies are inadequate, as confirmed by the ongoing scandal with StarLink GMO corn. In October 2000, GMO corn called StarLink authorized only for animal feed and not human consumption due to its allergenic potential, was found to be widespread in food and seed supply in the U.S. and later on in Japan and South Korea. More than 300 corn-based products had to be recalled. In July 2001, a U.S. panel of experts on allergenicity stated that there was insufficient data to conclude with reasonable certainty that there was an acceptable level of StarLink corn that people could eat.
“Despite the inability of the U.S. to control GMOs, it is pushing its inadequate regulatory system on others around the world,” said Iza Kruszewska from ANPED Northern Alliance for Sustainability, a NGO network based in Amsterdam.
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