Dods EU Alert: The EU-USA transatlantic treaty and the GMO label

Commissioner De Gucht responds to a question from MEP Patrick Le Hyaric

By Dods EU monitoring

18 Jun 2014

Question for written answer E-003633/2014 to the Commission

Subject: The EU-USA transatlantic treaty and the GMO label

According to some sources, the US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope have called for the negotiators of the EU-USA transatlantic treaty to gather a representative group of major shareholders and policymakers around a table in order to ‘co‑write legislation’ that would then have force of law in the United States and the European Union.

The multinationals have been remarkably candid in expressing their intentions on the question of GMOs. While in the US one in every two states intends to impose mandatory labelling indicating the presence of genetically modified organisms in a food item – a measure favoured by 80% of the country’s consumers – agribusiness corporations both in the US and in Europe are pushing for this type of labelling to be quashed. The National Confectioners Association did not beat about the bush in stating that ‘US industry also would like to see the [transatlantic partnership agreement] achieve progress in removing mandatory GMO labelling and traceability requirements’.

Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which includes US giant Monsanto, is outraged that products that contain GMOs and are sold in the United States may be refused on the European market. These multinationals make no secret of their desire for the transatlantic free‑trade area to enable them to finally impose on Europeans their ‘burgeoning backlog of GM products awaiting approval/processing’.

1. Can the Commission confirm these statements?

2. What contact has the Commission had with the US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope?

3. In the interests of transparency, can the Commission produce all the correspondence (letters, emails from experts, etc.) that it has exchanged with the US Chamber of Commerce and BusinessEurope and their representatives?

Answer given by Mr De Gucht on behalf of the Commission

While conducting negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Commission is accountable to the European interest and not to interests expressed by specific US business associations. 

As regards the impact of the negotiations on existing EU standards, including food standards, the Commission would like to recall its commitment to ensure that progress in terms of enhanced trade and investment will not come at the expense of EU’s fundamental values and standards of the EU and will be without prejudice to its right to regulate in the way it considers appropriate.  The EU will not lower its standards of protection in its legislation as a result of TTIP. The Commission has already at several occasions stressed that the TTIP negotiations will not lead to a change of the EU legislation on Genetically Modified Organisms.

As regards the call referred to by the Honourable Member for "gathering a group of shareholders and policymakers around a table in order to ‘co‑write legislation’ that would then have force of law in the United States and the European Union", the Commission wishes to point out that EU legislation is co-decided by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, upon proposal of the Commission and that the TTIP negotiations cannot and will not change this constitutional principle. 

Information regarding the contacts between the Commission and all interested stakeholders, including the US Chamber of Commerce and Business Europe, can be made available in line with Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.

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