Marketing by Force, Not Quality
|December 31, 2006||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Marketing by Force, Not Quality
Secret Tribunal Says Food Safety Less Important Than Corporate Profits
Freedom of choice advocates, child safety groups, scientists, free market supporters, and consumers, were temporarily defeated this week by an unelected secret board at the World Trade Organization, that said markets should not be free to keep out untested genetically manipulated foods.
Here are portions of an excellent summary that appeared in L’Express (Mauritius).
U.S. May Use Force Against Africa
The US may try to push Africa to accept gene-altered (GMO) food now that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled the EU broke rules by barring GMO foods and seeds, but Africans vowed yesterday to resist.
“We do not want GM (genetically modified) foods and our hope is that all of us can continue to produce non-GM foods”, Zambian Agriculture Minister Mundia Sikatana told Reuters in Lusaka. “It (the WTO decision) does not change our position. Our position is based on scientific evidence and information available to us. That is the best way to assure the Kenyan public that it is something that they can consume”, Kenyan Agriculture Minister Kipruto arap Kirwa told Reuters.
A secret WTO tribunal of unelected bureaucrats ruled on Tuesday that the European Union and six member states had broken trade rules by barring entry to genetically modified crops and foods. The exact ruling is a secret document, not yet public.
The closely watched verdict addressed a complaint brought against the EU by leading GMO corporations the United States, Argentina and Canada. [GMO lobbysists claimed that the European Union's concern for safety hurt GMO exports.]
Manufacturers of the biotech seeds, claim they are safe for human consumption, even though they lack scientific support. European consumers, fearing the effects of “Frankenstein foods” have resisted them. Even African countries facing food shortages, such as Zambia, have refused to accept gene-altered food donations, arguing their safety had not been ascertained.
Those countries that take in GMO-food demand stringent certifications and milling before it arrives on their borders. Regional heavyweight South Africa is one of the few countries on the continent to embrace the controversial technology.
Campaigners and analysts saw the US using the WTO ruling to press Africans to accept GMO food imports on the basis that Europe, which has usually backed the African position, will itself have to take them.
“There is a serious warning there to Africa not to restrict access to US, Canadian and Argentian markets. But I think it has the potential to increase resistance to GMOs in Africa and elsewhere,” Leslie Liddell, director of Biowatch South Africa, told Reuters in Johannesburg. “American industry is already saying that the result is a signal to the rest of the world”, Daniel Mittler, trade adviser at Greenpeace International, added.
UK charity Save the Children said it believed a distinction should be made between GM-food for commercial purposes and for food aid. With proper packaging and labelling regulations, a European consumer could choose whether to purchase GM food, it added. [Such freedom of choice is not currently available for U.S. citizens.]
“Save the Children UK believes that people needing outside support are entitled to choice and dignity, and therefore donors should respect that right by providing food aid – or the finance to buy food – in a form that is locally acceptable”, it said. Africans argue that better technology to increase irrigation, more widespread use of fertilisers and pesticides, and improved monitoring of market trends will help deliver improved harvests and defeat hunger.
But Zambian minister Sikatana said there was no looking back: “We made a decision based on facts and those facts have not changed. We hope no one in Africa feels they have to change their views based on that ruling, it will not do.”
U.S. Tries to Favor Special Privilege Instead of Open Markets
GM Food Makers Refuse to Disclose Untested Ingredients to Americans, But They Do It in Europe
Foldvary on Genetically Manipulated Food
What are your views? Share your opinions with The Progress Report!