Agricultural Biotechnology and Trade: The Unresolved Issues
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To observers contemplating the failure of the Cancun ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in September 2003, the United States and the European Union appeared to stand on the same side of the disagreement that stalled efforts to advance the Doha Round of multilateral trade liberalization. Poor countries wanted real reduction in the widespread agricultural subsidies that depress world prices in commodities that are critical to development. The United States and the European Union, on the other hand, insisted on a more comprehensive approach to liberalization, including pushing the WTO into new areas (such as rationalization of inefficient and corrupt custom procedures). Neither side could agree with the other. But, whereas at Cancun rich countries found a common stance vis-à-vis the demands of developing countries, the United States and the European Union remain on a collision course when it comes to agricultural trade because of the enduring and growing problems associated with the regulation of genetically modified (GM) products.