Tag Archives EU

The European Commission’s (EC’s) Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health reportedly deadlocked on February 16, 2009, over whether France and Greece should be forced to lift their bans on a genetically modified (GM) corn seed that is the only one approved for planting in the European Union. According to a biotechnology industry spokesperson, the increase in votes favoring the cultivation of GM crops signals a new momentum in Europe to open markets to these controversial crops. EU environmentalists and consumers have long opposed their introduction, citing environmental risks and the unwelcome intrusion of large corporate interests into agriculture. A larger vote next week may, say biotech industry executives, lead to the approval of two additional GM corn seeds for marketing in the EU. Mike Hall, a spokesperson for the developer of one of them, has reportedly indicated that the company is waiting to see if the EU…

European animal advocates and some European Commission (EC) members recently attended a Conference on Global Trade and Farm Animal Welfare in Brussels, Belgium, where they reportedly called on legislators to include animal welfare provisions in all global trade agreements. In particular, EC members noted that animal welfare restrictions have driven up the cost of meat production in Europe, making it more economical to import these products. They thus urged Europe to demand equivalency standards in international trade agreements similar to those already in place for biotechnology. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s chief veterinarian, Elizabeth Parker, noted that Europe bases its welfare standards on non-scientific factors, pointing to the practice of using “Eurobarometer” surveys to craft policies in line with public opinion. “The ultimate goal is to make sure we take care of our animals and produce safe and affordable beef supply and we do that,” stated Parker in an interview…

British sheep farmers have reportedly threatened to resist an EU proposal that would require them to implement an electronic animal identification system starting in January 2010. With 30 million sheep in the United Kingdom, many farmers have described the plan as prohibitively expensive and unnecessary. Designed to track livestock movement in the event of an epidemic, the system would rely on ear tags costing between £0.50 and £1.50 each with an additional £5,000 or £6,000 per scanning machine. But farmers have argued that their current method of tracking sheep is adequate and avoids the technological issues associated with Internet and broadband use in remote areas. “When you consider that the average sheep farmer only makes something like £6,000 a year, this could see a significant number of farmers deciding it is just too much,” one farmer was quoted as saying. The proposal has drawn similar criticisms from farming organizations in…

The European Commission has reportedly indicated that it will file a World Trade Organization (WTO) challenge to the U.S. decision to impose new tariffs on European Union (EU) products involved in sanctions stemming from a dispute over beef hormones. The EU has banned hormone-treated beef since the early 1980s, and the WTO ruled in 1998 that the ban violated trade rules, thus opening the door for U.S. and Canadian trade sanctions. While the EU contends that it has scientific grounds to support the ban, the United States and Canada have maintained their trade sanctions against the European bloc. According to a French Roquefort cheese producer, 100 percent tariffs have been imposed on his products for nine years; a new sanctions update has increased the penalty to 300 percent. “Sales of Roquefort to the United States will be finished,” he reportedly said. At issue is a Bush administration decision to suspend the…

The GAO, which serves as the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, has released a report that analyzes federal oversight of genetically engineered (GE) crops and recommends steps the agencies could take to better address the unauthorized release of these crops into food, animal feed or the environment. Titled Genetically Engineered Crops: Agencies Are Proposing Changes to Improve Oversight but Could Take Additional Steps to Enhance Coordination and Monitoring, the 109-page report discusses the roles that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) play in regulating GE crops. It also notes how six unauthorized releases of GE crops in recent years may not have adversely affected human or animal health, but did result in lost trade opportunities. The GAO’s assessment was undertaken at the request of Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), the chair and ranking member respectively of the Committee on…

The Office of U.S. Trade Representative has issued a request for comments about potential alternative products imported from the European Union (EU) that are under consideration for the imposition of increased duties. The action arises from an ongoing dispute with the EU over its refusal to allow imports of U.S. meat and meat products produced from animals treated with artificial growth hormones. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, “The [World Trade Organization] found over 10 years ago that the EU’s ban on U.S. beef was not supported by science and was thus inconsistent with WTO rules. When the EU failed to bring its measures into compliance with its WTO obligations, the United States imposed tariffs on certain imports from the EU, as authorized by the WTO. Since that time, we have been trying to resolve this dispute with the EU without changing the composition of tariffs. It is now time…

Close