Grassley Urges Action on E.U. Biotech Moratorium
WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, incoming chairman of the Committee on Finance,
and six other senators today sent a letter to President Bush asking the President to act on the
European Union’s moratorium on U.S. biotech products. Grassley initiated the letter out of a
longstanding concern about this issue and after talking with the U.S. trade representative about it.
The text of the letter follows.
December 19, 2002
The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are aware that your Administration is considering the initiation of dispute settlement
procedures in the WTO against the four and a half year- long EU moratorium on approval of United
States biotech products. We urge you to take that step without delay.
Despite repeated assurances from European officials that the moratorium would be lifted,
there is no indication that this will happen in the foreseeable future. Indeed, the situation continues
to worsen. The EU Council of Agriculture Ministers recently adopted a proposal that, if it becomes
law, would subject biotech-derived feed and foods to the same approval procedure that has stopped
imports of biotech-improved corn, and would greatly expand the scope of mandatory labeling of
products derived from crops improved through biotechnology. The Council of Environment
Ministers has also adopted traceability requirements that will require complete segregation of biotech
and non-biotech products, which is virtually impossible.
Not only has the EU moratorium on biotech product approvals cost the U.S. $300 million
annually in corn exports, it has also had a chilling effect on the sales of all biotech products in the
EU. Moreover, EU policies towards biotechnology are affecting U.S. export markets around the
world. A number of countries have adopted mirroring legislation, and others have begun to restrict
the marketing of U.S. biotech products in order to protect their export markets in the EU. We
recently witnessed the most extreme manifestation of this when African countries in the midst of a
serious famine began to refuse U.S. food aid, because they accepted the faulty logic and
misinformation behind the EU’s unwarranted moratorium.
United States biotech-derived feed and foods have undergone comprehensive and rigorous
assessments to validate their safety. No credible scientific challenge has ever been mounted to the
safety of our approved biotech products. In fact, the European Commission has officially
acknowledged the safety of these products. On August 23, 2002, the Commission itself stated: “For
the EU, there is no reason to believe that GM food is inherently unsafe to human health.”
In addition to their widely acknowledged safety, U.S. biotech products have the potential to
efficiently provide for the nutritional needs of the more than one billion people in developing nations
who live on less than $1 a day. Yet, in spite of the compelling, irrefutable evidence pointing to the
safety and the cost-effective, high nutritional value of various biotech food products, the EU still
persists in advocating an unreasonable regulatory scheme that has the effect of completely blocking
A dispute settlement case against the moratorium will put the EU, and other countries that
are tempted to follow its example, on notice that the U.S. intends to hold them to their WTO
obligations with respect to biotech regulatory policy. The price of inaction will be the continued
proliferation of unfair and unscientific trade restrictions to the detriment of United States agriculture,
the world’s consumers, and the environment.
Thank you for your attention to this critical issue. We look forward to your reply.
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