TWN Info Service on WTO Issues (May03/6)
Third World Network
30 May 2003
Dear friends and colleagues
LETTER IN NY TIMES ON US-EU FEUD OVER BIOTECH FOOD
As you may know, the US together with some other countries have started measures in the WTO (at the moment, consultations) against the European Union concerning its members’ prohibition of imports of some genetically-modified foods.
Below is a brief and interesting letter to the New York Times from the ETC Group, which is a highly respected independent research NGO based mainly in Canada and the US, addressing this issue. It was published in the NYTimes of 27 May.
With best wishes
The New York Times
May 27, 2003
Biotech Food and the Hungry
To the Editor:
Re “Bush Links Europe’s Ban on Bio-Crops With Hunger” (news article, May 22):
President Bush says that genetically modified crops will help feed hungry people in poor nations. That’s nonsense. There is no scientific evidence that genetically modified foods are cheaper, safer, better-tasting or more nutritious. Lacking consumer benefits for its genetically modified crops, the biotech industry is desperately seeking moral legitimacy.
Under the guise of humanitarian aid, the Bush administration is force-feeding high-tech, proprietary seeds that are neither affordable nor relevant to most poor farmers. Some African countries have refused genetically modified food aid because of health, trade and environmental concerns.
The true beneficiary of Mr. Bush’s promotional efforts are not poor people, but some of the world’s largest agrochemical and seed corporations - like Monsanto, whose genetically modified seed technology accounted for more than 90 percent of the total worldwide area devoted to genetically modified crops last year. When the root of the problem is poverty and inequality, technology is never the silver bullet solution.
Chapel Hill, N.C., May 22, 2003
The writer is research director of the ETC Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization.