Canada, European nations halt GM canola dispute

Canadian growers of genetically-modified (GM) canola can expect greater market access in Europe now that Canada and the European Communities (EC) have agreed to end their trade dispute on GM crops, the federal government says.

International Trade Minister Stockwell Day on Wednesday announced the EC — the common-market policy bodies of the European Union (EU) — have agreed with Canada to end their six-year dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the approval and marketing of biotechnology products.

And “reopened access to the European Communities means Canadian farm families will have more buyers bidding on their canola,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in the same release.

“Today’s resolution on GMOs shows that the WTO dispute settlement process works,” Day added.

“In ending this long-standing dispute, the (EC) has committed to an ongoing dialogue with Canada on biotechnology that will continue to help improve market access and avoid unnecessary obstacles to trade.”

That, in turn, is positive news for all farmers producing GM products, he said.

The “mutually agreed solution” between Canada and the EC calls for officials to meet twice a year to “proactively” discuss issues related to biotechnology and the trade in agriculture and agri-food.

During the early 1990s, before GM canola varieties became commonly grown in Canada and EU countries began restricting imports of GMOs, Canada’s canola exports had shown “increasingly strong potential” and peaked at $425 million in 1994.

The EC’s delays in approving GM crops had led Canada, the U.S. and Argentina to file separate challenges at the WTO starting in 2003.

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