U.S. trade officials pressured EU lawmakers to drop health and environmental safeguards on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in order to pave the way for a transatlantic trade agreement, or TTIP, according to documents acquired by NGOs under the freedom of information law.
The EU Commission bowed to US pressure in TTIP trade talks by deciding to consider organisms modified by new 'gene editing' techniques as non-GMO.
The European Commission documents — released by Greenpeace, Corporate Europe Observatory and GeneWatchUK — revealed on Thursday that U.S. representatives pressured EU officials to disregard its GMO rules, which require safety testing and labelling for genetically modified plants and animals.
The documents show that U.S. pressure is primarily centered around potential barriers to trade from the application of the EU GMO law.
The USTR complained that EU GMO policies “restrict the importation and use of U.S. agricultural commodities derived from agricultural biotechnology."
The U.S. government has a long record of backing GMO companies, which often turn to the U.S. trade representative, or USTR, for help with overseas markets, the Greenpeace Press Release noted.
"If TTIP is agreed, the U.S. government will always get its way. In fact, the EU will progressively weaken its standards and safeguards to suit the U.S., and any plan to better protect our environment and health would be neutralized before it hits the democratic scrutiny of the European Parliament,” Greenpeace trade expert Juergen Knirsch said.
Meanwhile, civil society organizations, small-scale farmers and the organic sector have called on the Commission to apply EU GMO law to all products of genetic engineering, including new breeding techniques such as gene-editing.
“The commission must recognize that gene-editing is genetic engineering. It must come out of the bushes and reassure EU citizens that it won't allow the GM industry to bypass rigorous safety tests and labelling,” Greenpeace EU food Policy Director Franziska Achterberg stated.
The next round of TTIP negotiations starts on April 25, 2016 in New York.