NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Europe's Ban On Genetically Altered Food Hurting U.S. Farmers

September 14, 1999

European trade officials are flinging up barriers to genetically modified foods -- which U.S. farmers grow in abundance. Analysts are stunned by the vehemence of Europe's rejection of the foods.

"To find the Europeans so phobic is alarming, disturbing, confusing," says Jeffrey Gedmin, executive director of the New Atlantic Initiative. "There's just something so irrational, so emotional going on," he adds.

Hormone-treated beef is already banned in Europe and corn and soybeans are under the gun. This is bad news to U.S. farmers who depend upon that market.

  • Thirty-five percent of the 9.4 billion bushel U.S. corn crop is genetically modified -- which U.S. experts claim poses no health risk, but results in better and cheaper crops.
  • Some 55 percent of the nearly 2.8 billion bushel U.S. soybean crop is also genetically modified.
  • Europe's ban on genetically modified foods could result in lost markets for as much as a billion bushels of grain.
  • Observers say that while there is an element of resentment and envy of the U.S. in these trade policies, Europeans are just as critical of genetic modification research in their own countries.

U.S. trade advocates make the point that European consumers don't have to buy genetically altered food imports. But at least trade officials should let them have the choice.

Genetically modified foods aside, analysts bemoan the sorry state of trade relations in general -- which have been allowed to deteriorate on both sides of the Atlantic.

Source: Jim Christie, "Dumping on Trade," Investor's Business Daily, September 14, 1999.


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