From the USA with Love: Sharing Home-Grown Hormones, GMOs and Clones with a Reluctant Europe
37 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2010
Date Written: April 30, 2007
The United States and the European Union (EU) disagree over the social, ethical, and environmental implications of producing, using, and trading the products of modern science. Since the 1990s, the United States and Europe have clashed heads in the World Trade Organization (WTO) over European regulations restricting imports of the products of modern biotechnology. In the first of these WTO disputes - the Beef Hormones dispute - the WTO upheld a United States challenge to EU regulations banning the importation of beef treated with hormones; this dispute is still ongoing. The scale of the Beef Hormones dispute pales in comparison to the pending row over genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The United States and the EU have adopted diametrically opposed regulatory regimes for the importation and use of GMOs, prompting yet another WTO trade dispute. In fall 2006, the WTO dispute settlement body found that Europe’s genetically modified (GM) regulations contradict international trade rules, thus fueling another epic transatlantic dispute.
In late 2006, the United States laid the groundwork for yet another biotechnology-trade conflict. On December 28, 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released Animal Cloning: A Draft Risk Assessment. One of the practical consequences of the FDA’s report is that cloned food products will not have to be labeled as such when they enter the human food market. The EU has not yet established a framework for regulating the products of cloned animals, but it is unlikely to adopt such a laissez-faire approach.
This Article examines the beef hormones, GMOs, and cloned foods debates, focusing on whether cloned foods will incite American political and ethical debate or slide by without notice until the United States and the EU once again clash heads in the WTO. The Article concludes that the United States citizenry will likely continue to be, by and large, indifferent to food safety questions, but that the cloning debate will begin to turn the tide towards incorporating more public participation and scientific precaution into the U.S. regulatory decisionmaking process. Further, the Article finds that the stakes are too high and the human and environmental impacts too indefinite to allow global decision making on these issues to come down to the dialogue of a handful of developed nations, i.e., the United States and the EU, and the rules of an international organization, i.e., the WTO, that is monumental in task and influence but limited in scope and capacity.
Keywords: Hormones, GMOs, Clones
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