Citizens Protest Bush Threats
"STOP THREATENING TO OVERTURN OTHER NATIONS' FOOD SAFETY LAWS," 200 GROUPS WORLDWIDE TELL PRESIDENT BUSH
Friends of the Earth and hundreds of other organizations are objecting to Bush attempts to undermine food safety laws in other countries.
Washington, DC--More than 200 consumer, farm and environmental groups worldwide have sent a letter protesting threats by the Bush administration to challenge food safety laws of other countries as barriers to international trade.
Groups representing citizens in Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the United States and Zimbabwe signed the letter. The groups -- including the Third World Network, Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth International, and the Consumer Policy Institute/Consumers Union (U.S. publishers of Consumer Reports) -- represent millions of members around the world.
The groups called the U.S. threats unreasonable, especially since the U.S. allows states to establish food safety and environmental laws that are tougher than national laws. For example, a five-year moratorium on genetically engineered fish was passed in the state of Maryland last April. Additionally, U.S. pesticide law allows states to set limits on pesticide use that are more strict than federal law.
"If a U.S. state can have a moratorium on genetically modified foods, why can't other countries do the same?" said Ricardo Navarro, Chair of Friends of the Earth International and a resident of El Salvador. "The U.S. has no right to tell Sri Lanka or any other country how to write their food safety laws."
Weyland Beeghly, Agricultural Counselor from the U.S. Embassy, New Delhi publicly threatened in May that the U.S. might challenge a ban in Sri Lanka of genetically engineered organisms by submitting a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The ban is scheduled to take effect on September 1, sixty days later than planned as Sri Lanka granted a WTO request to allow exporters time to adjust to the law.
Wichai Chokwiwat, Secretary General to the Thai Food and Drug Administration told the Thai newspaper, The Nation, on July 19th that his country was also a target of threats to use U.S. trade laws to retaliate against a Thai proposal made in July to require labeling of genetically engineered corn and soy crops.
The letter to the Bush administration argues that Sri Lanka and other nations have a scientific, regulatory and moral basis to set limits on the proliferation of genetically engineered organisms.
A copy of the letter to the Bush Administration with a list of signers and the text of the Sri Lanka GMO ban may be found at www.foei.org
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