[permaculture] Alternative letter to Zoellick on trade & GMO

John Schinnerer john at eco-living.net
Sun Dec 14 21:35:54 EST 2003


Aloha All,

Below are two letters, both to U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Zoellick and concerning
"free" trade and GMO issues.  The first was
written and signed by a bunch of agribusiness and national/multi-national food
production lobbying organizations.  The latter was (re-)written by yours
truly.

I've already sent a signed copy of "my" letter to Zoellick.  Please read both,
and if you're so moved, send one (feel free to edit to suit, or make up your
own) to Zoellick yourself.  Feel free to pass this along appropriately, as
well.

Honestly, I'm not much of an advocate of globalization of food supply -
localize, localize, localize!  However, I did this to speak to the same
situation in a different way than the industry letter does.

If any of you can get some organizations to sign on, that would be great -
especially organic food producers, sellers, co-ops, etc. - anyone offering
alternatives to forced global food trade in GMO and mass monocrop foods.

thanks,
John S.

The original industry letter:
------------------------
> The Honorable Robert Zoellick
> United States Trade Representative
> 600 17 th Street, NW
> Washington, D.C. 20508
>
> Dear Ambassador Zoellick:
> On October 18, 2003, regulations were published in the Official
> Journal of the European Union (EU) establishing new requirements for
> the traceability and labeling of food and feed products and safety
> assessments for food and feed produced through biotechnology. These
> requirements are non-tariff trade barriers that violate World Trade
> Organization (WTO) obligations and will result in significant losses
> to the U.S. food and agriculture industry. The undersigned
> organizations urge you to take immediate action to prevent further
> disruption of U.S. agricultural commodity and food product exports to
> the EU resulting from these regulations.
> The new regulations clearly violate the EU's WTO obligations. The
> Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade
> agreements (TBT) require that import restrictions not discriminate
> between imported and domestic products and not be overly restrictive
> to trade. The SPS agreement also requires that any measures which have
> the effect of restricting trade must be based on scientific
> principles. The
> new EU regulations are not consistent with these provisions and
> clearly discriminate against imported products. In addition, the
> requirements would set a precedent for process-based traceability and
> labeling that could create potentially insurmountable technical
> barriers to trade and discourage adoption and acceptance of new
> technologies, including biotechnology, around the globe.
> Products of modern biotechnology must undergo intensive scientific and
> regulatory review before being approved to enter the EU market, and
> the EU has not identified any science-based risks associated with
> approved biotech products. Despite this, the regulations use the
> "Precautionary Principle" and other non-science based factors to
> justify the implementation of costly and trade-restrictive
> traceability and labeling
> requirements. The United States Government consistently has opposed
> the use of such criteria for restricting trade and must challenge EU
> regulations that embody these concepts.
> Finally, it is important that the Administration challenge the EU's
> new regulations in anticipation that other countries will come under
> pressure to adopt similar requirements and restrictions. Just as a
> number of other large importers subsequently adopted biotech labeling
> policies after the EU enacted its first labeling regulation, influence
> will be exerted for other countries to adopt trade-restrictive
> traceability and discriminatory, process-based labeling regimes.
> Further, international organizations
> such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission will have license to adopt
> similar requirements as global standards. U.S. agricultural commodity
> and food exports will be very negatively affected by these developments.
> The U.S. government must take every possible action to confront these
> trade-distorting policies and prevent further erosion of U.S.
> agriculture and food export markets in the EU and other countries. Now
> that the EU's regulations have been finalized, we believe it is time
> to engage the EU in a WTO dispute settlement proceeding, and we urge
> that you initiate such action immediately. In addition, a review of
> the impact these requirements will have on U.S. agricultural commodity
> and food exports by the International Trade Commission should be
> requested to quantify economic losses to U.S. farmers, exporters, and
> food companies.
> Our organizations appreciate your strong support of biotechnology and
> pledge our assistance to help you address this critical issue.
---------------------------

My revised version - intended for multiple signatures, edit to suit your
situation and intentions:
------------------------------
The Honorable Robert Zoellick
United States Trade Representative
600 17 th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20508

Dear Ambassador Zoellick:

On October 18, 2003, regulations were published in the Official
Journal of the European Union (EU) establishing new requirements for
the traceability and labeling of food and feed products and safety
assessments for food and feed produced through biotechnology. These
requirements are a wonderful example of government responding to the needs and
desires of its citizens, and will result in significant new overseas
opportunities for U.S. food and agriculture industries. The undersigned
individuals and organizations urge you to take immediate action to support
U.S. food producers in taking advantage of these opportunities.

The new regulations clearly show that EU consumers want to know what is in the
food they buy, where it came from, and how it was produced, which is the most
basic and reasonable of requirements for any truly fair and free trade,
whether domestic or international.

The Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreement requires that any measures
taken must be based on scientific principles. The new EU regulations are
clearly consistent with this requirement in that they invoke the
"Precautionary Principle," which is a fundamental precept of any responsible
and objective science or scientific endeavor, domestic or international.
Abandonment of the Precautionary Principle is one of the clearest indicators
of irresponsile, subjective "science-for-hire" generated by special interests
who for whatever reasons have little or no concern for public health and
safety.

These EU requirements set a wonderful precedent for process-based traceability
and labeling that could, through our innovative business models and
technological superiority, catapult U.S. products to the "top of the crop" in
overseas markets.  We are, you must agree, the country most able, ready and
willing to not only meet but surpass the desires of EU consumers for healthy,
safe and adequately labeled food products.

Although the United States Government has consistently opposed not only the EU
but also its own citizens by restricting traceability and labeling of food and
feed products and limiting safety assessments for food and feed produced
through biotechnology, such self-destructive and isolationist policies can no
longer be maintained if we are to succeed in global markets.  It is time to
admit our past mistakes and take positive action into the future to resume our
leadership in this area of international commerce.

Finally, it is important that the Administration support the EU's
new regulations in anticipation that other countries will adopt similar
standardized requirements. Just as a number of other large importers
subsequently adopted biotech labeling policies after the EU enacted its first
labeling regulation, influence will be exerted for other countries to adopt
traceability and process-based labeling systems.  Further, international
organizations such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission will have license to
adopt similar requirements as global standards. The more we can support and
guide the international standardization of such systems, the better position
we will be in to take advantage of the global markets they create.  U.S.
agricultural commodity and food exports will be very positivley affected by
these developments.

The U.S. government must take every possible action to encourage these
trade-enhancing policies and increase the long-term viability of U.S.
agriculture and food export markets in the EU and other countries.  Now that
the EU's regulations have been finalized, we believe it is time to listen to
our own citizens' demands for similar regulations, and also to engage the EU
in a constructive dialog on international standardization of such regulations.
 We urge that you initiate such action immediately.

In addition, a review by the International Trade Commission of the benefits
these requirements will offer for dynamic and innovative U.S. agricultural
commodity and food export producers should be requested to quantify economic
benefits to U.S. farmers, exporters, and food companies.

We appreciate your strong support of truly fair and free trade and pledge our
assistance to help you address this critical issue.
--------------------------------


John Schinnerer - MA, Whole Systems Design
------------------------------------------
- Eco-Living -
Cultural & Ecological Designing
People - Place - Learning - Integration
john at eco-living.net
http://eco-living.net



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