The National Post (Canada)
By David Akin, Canwest News Service
July 15, 2009
OTTAWA — The European Union has dropped a six-year-old ban on genetically modified canola products from Canada and has agreed to a new dispute resolution process Canadians hope will avoid future bans of genetically modified foods.
Before the ban went into place in 2003, Canada was exporting about $425 million a year in canola seed to EU countries.
"This is positive news for Canadian producers of all agricultural [genetically modified organism] GMO products," Trade Minister Stockwell Mr. Day said in a statement.
The European Union, for its part, said it was not modifying a broad regulatory regime which prevents GMOproducts from being marketed in the EU. Indeed, it has outstanding disputes with Argentina and the United States that are preventing GMO products from those countries from entering the European market.
But in its agreement with Canada over canola seed, the EUseems to suggest that it is prepared to consider GMO products on an ad hoc or case-by-case basis.
"The mutually agreed solution with Canada is a clear sign that this type of dialogue works. I hope we can follow the same constructive approach with Argentina and the United States," said EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton.
Canada and other countries around the world have been trying to get the European Union countries to accept GMO products since 1998.
With the current agreement, Canada, at least, has established a process of "ongoing dialogue" it hopes will open the EU market to those products.
Aside from canola, there were no other products from Canada banned by the EU on GMO grounds. Canadian officials had been concerned there might be objections to some Canadian corn and soy products but no official complaints have yet been lodged.
Mr. Day said in reaching a resolution on the canola ban, the EU and Canada have also developed a way to sort out issues either side has in order to avoid bans or lengthy complaints procedures at the World Trade Organization.
The two sides agreed to meet at least twice a year to discuss new GMO products, new marketing initiatives and any new or pending legislation.