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July 15, 2009 (12:30 p.m. EDT)
No. 195

Canada and European Communities End WTO Dispute on Genetically Modified Organisms

The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today announced that Canada and the European Communities (EC) have agreed to end a six-year World Trade Organization dispute regarding the approval and marketing of biotechnology products, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Resolving this dispute means improved market access for commercially produced Canadian agricultural GMO products, particularly canola seed.

“Today’s resolution on GMOs shows that the WTO dispute settlement process works,” said Minister Day. “Canadian canola producers now have greater access to European markets. In ending this long-standing dispute, the European Communities has committed to an ongoing dialogue with Canada on biotechnology that will continue to help improve market access and avoid unnecessary obstacles to trade. This is positive news for Canadian producers of all agricultural GMO products.”

“Canadian farmers are the best in the world at producing healthy, high-quality canola,” said the Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “Our government always stands up for Canadian farm families, and it is good to see that the European Communities is implementing the WTO panel’s ruling. Reopened access to the European Communities means Canadian farm families will have more buyers bidding on their canola.”

In 2003, Canada, the United States and Argentina launched separate WTO challenges to the EC’s delays in approving GMOs. Under the mutually agreed solution between Canada and the EC, officials will meet twice a year to proactively discuss issues related to biotechnology and the trade in agriculture and agri-food products. Through these discussions, Canada will continue to promote the interests of Canadian farmers and exporters.

In the early 1990’s, before European countries began restricting imports of genetically modified products, Canadian canola exports to the EC showed increasingly strong potential, peaking at $425 million in 1994.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Mélisa Leclerc
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Meagan Murdoch
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada