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CU Criticizes Bush WTO Challenge on Bioengineered Food

TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2003


WASHINGTON, DC–Consumers Union, the independent, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, today challenged as “anti-consumer” the Bush Administration’s decision to file suit at the World Trade Organization against the European Union’s moratorium on importing genetically engineered food. The organization issued the following statement:
“Polls show that U.S. and European consumers want the same thing-a strict system of safety testing before these products are put on the market, and clear labeling. This challenge is anti-consumer,” states Jean Halloran, Director of the Consumers Union Consumer Policy Institute.
“The Bush Administration’s challenge in the WTO is a challenge to every consumer’s basic right to know and to be assured of safety,” says Rhoda Karpatkin, president emeritus of Consumers Union, a past president of Consumers International, and a member of the Steering Committee of the TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue.
“Our government should respect the preferences of consumers in other parts of the world. Other countries have a right to develop their own pre-market safety testing and labeling regulations to protect their consumers, without having to endure bullying tactics from other governments,” Karpatkin says.
Jean Halloran adds, “It is difficult to see how this challenge will help U.S. farmers market U.S. agricultural products to European consumers. It will only deepen the concerns and suspicions of European consumers if they feel their governments are being forced to allow imports of genetically modified foods. It will become even more unlikely that European consumers will buy these foods.”
Jean Halloran, 914-378-2457