U.S. Grains Council pleased with WTO ruling

The U.S. Grains Council is pleased with the WTO ruling in favor of the United States, Canada and Argentina in a case filed against the European Union in 2003. The three countries filed the case with the WTO in response to the EU’s moratorium on the import of genetically modified crops and their products.

“The council has long supported the filing of this case believing that the EU moratorium is an unjustified trade barrier to U.S. corn in violation of WTO rules,” said Ken Hobbie, USGC president and CEO. “We’re pleased to see a positive ruling for U.S. producers.”

While U.S. corn exports to Europe averaged $300 million a year for each of the three years prior to the moratorium in 1998, the actual amount of blocked trade is likely higher. Low duties and a shortage of grain in Europe in recent years would have resulted in higher trade volumes. Additionally, prior to the 2004 enlargement of the EU, several of the 10 acceding countries imported modest amounts of U.S. corn.

While the council is happy about the ruling, it should be stressed that corn imports won’t start immediately. According to an outline issued by the U.S. Trade Representative, the final report on this ruling will not be filed until at least mid-2006. This could then trigger an appeal process by the EU that could take up to a year to complete.

“We recognize the right to appeal the ruling but feel confident this precedent-setting decision will stand,” Hobbie said.

The council is actively engaged in educating legislators, regulators and opinion leaders in the EU and worldwide on the science behind the technology of genetically modified products. Using USDA funds and generous grants from the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and Nebraska Corn Board, the council has for several years organized major events and programs such as the International Biotechnology Information Conference and the Biotech Harvest Media Tour. Just these two events have brought hundreds of policy makers and reporters from around the world – including the EU to the United States to learn first-hand from researchers and farmers the sound science and safety of biotech crops.

In 2004/05, U.S. farmers produced 42 percent of the world’s corn. Of the 2004/05 U.S. corn crop, 52 percent was derived from biotechnology and 17 percent was exported.

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