CSA-India Press Release: WTO Seeks To Overturn Sovereign Authority Of States Yet Again Print E-mail
PRESS RELEASE: February 14 2006

“WTO Seeks To Overturn Sovereign Authority Of States Yet Again”

Hyderabad - February 14, 2006: Reacting to the recent ruling of a WTO panel upholding the complaints of USA and other countries on Europe’s precautionary approach to GMOs as illegal under WTO trade rules, the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture said that this ruling by the WTO seriously undermines the sovereignty of nation-states in deciding upon appropriate environmental and food safety for their respective conditions.
There has been widespread criticism, especially from Europe, on the incapability of WTO to rule on issues like GMOs as well as the non-transparent functioning in resolving the dispute. As in the past, the attempt seems to be to make trade agreements supercede over international environmental agreements like the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol which recognizes each country’s right to protect its biological diversity and human health.  This ruling came in the wake of America’s desperate attempts to force its GM products onto the world markets in a variety of forms, including as food aid and facing rejection in many countries.
“Even though this ruling is supposed to be against Europe, it has more serious implications for developing countries which could buckle easily under the American pressure. It is the developing countries that the biotech industry is eyeing, given the potential huge markets that they hold for the industry. While in Europe this ruling might mean very little change on the ground given the clear rejection of the technology by consumers and farmers, the repercussion in countries like India is alarming where an informed debate on the desirability of GM technology is yet to begin”, said Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu, Executive Director of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture.
This complaint by the USA and its [political] allies like Canada, Argentina, Mexico and Egypt was filed on May 13th, 2003 in the WTO apparently threatened by the Biosafety Protocol shaping up, where Europe was charged of imposing a defacto ban on GM products, in violation of trade rules under the WTO. On September 11th of the same year, the Cartagena Protocol came into effect with fifty countries including India ratifying the protocol which was first evolved in 2000.
Ms Kavitha Kuruganti, Researcher, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture added-“Coupled with internal policy changes like allowing FDI in retail trade and setting up of new entities like ‘Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture Research and Education’ with companies like Monsanto and Wal-Mart on board to push transgenic research and application within the ICAR system, this could mean an easier entry of GMOs into India. As it is, the failure of regulation, unscientific testing and monitoring of GM crops has resulted in huge losses for thousands of farmers for a crop like GM Cotton. It would do well for India to remember that worldwide, only around 20 countries have GM crop cultivation, with many countries actively banning the technology. Behind such a situation is a careful analysis of local conditions and an analysis on the need for the technology, its potential adverse effects etc.. India also needs to keep the best interests of its farmers and consumers in mind and has to uphold its sovereign rights on matters like this”.  
It is expected that consumer and farmer rejection of GM products would only increase in Europe and other countries in the wake of this ruling. The Indian farmers’ interests therefore lie in continuing with non-GM produce and catering to the non-GM demand within and outside the country. 
For more information, contact:
Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu at 09391359702 or at or
Ms Kavitha Kuruganti at 09393001550 or at