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Soy Growers: EU Opt-Out Proposal Would Disrupt Trade Policy, Economy

The American Soybean Association (ASA) and United States Biotech Crops Alliance (USBCA) urge the European Union (EU) to withdraw the biotechnology “Opt Out” before it disrupts trade policy and the economy.

ASA and the USBCA provided comments to the World Trade Organization (WTO) last week stating the proposal cannot be supported under international trade rules or on practical grounds.

In April, the European Commission proposed amending its approvals process for biotechnology traits. The proposal would allow individual member states to opt out of the import of products containing those traits for food and feed use, including products already being imported, even though such traits have been fully approved by European Union (EU) food safety officials.

In the comments, ASA and USBCA supported the views expressed by members of the E.U.  Agriculture and Fisheries Council, members of the Agriculture and Environment Committees of the European Parliament and the Governments of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Paraguay and the United States.

“With near-unanimity, these institutions and Governments have indicated the proposal would violate both the E.U.’s international trade obligations and the principles of the single-E.U. market, to the detriment of both the E.U’s trading partners and E.U. agriculture,” they stated. “In addition, they have cited the lack of formal legal opinion and impact assessment of the proposal, and as such recommended that the proposal be rejected and withdrawn. We join in the opinion that it should be withdrawn.”

The letter also pointed out that EU adoption of this proposal would violate a number of WTO provisions and have major short and long term effects on both GMO crop exporters and consumers in the EU.

Short-term effects include the loss of direct export markets and logistical and management costs. Long-term effects could include major structural changes both for exporters and EU industry and increased shipping costs.

The “Opt Out” proposal must be adopted by the 28 EU member states and the EU parliament through the co-decision process. A timeline for that has not been set.

ASA is a member of USBCA, a broad-based group of U.S. organizations dedicated to improving the environment for technology innovation and the market for U.S. crops produced through the use of biotechnology.

Click here to read the entire letter.

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