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Twenty-Six Countries Have Partial or Total Bans on GMOs-Why Won't the US?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

The GMO wars escalated earlier this month when the 2013 World Food Prize was awarded to three chemical company executives, including Monsanto executive vice president and chief technology officer, Robert Fraley, responsible for development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The choice of Fraley was widely protested, with eighty-one members of the prestigious World Future Council calling it "an affront to the growing international consensus on safe, ecological farming practices that have been scientifically proven to promote nutrition and sustainability."

Monsanto's Man

The choice of Monsanto's man triggered accusations of prize buying. From 1999 to 2011, Monsanto donated $380 million to the World Food Prize Foundation, in addition to a $5 million contribution in 2008 to help renovate the Hall of Laureates, a public museum honoring Norman Borlaug, the scientist who launched the Green Revolution.

For some, the award to Monsanto is actually a sign of desperation on the part of the GMO establishment, a move designed to contain the deepening controversy over the so-called biotechnological revolution in food and agriculture. The arguments of the critics are making headway. Owing to concern about the dangers and risks posed by genetically engineered organisms, many governments have instituted total or partial bans on their cultivation, importation, and field-testing.

A few years ago, there were sixteen countries that had total or partial bans on GMOs. Now there are at least twenty-six, including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia. Significant restrictions on GMOs exist in about sixty other countries.

Restraints on trade in GMOs based on phyto-sanitary grounds, which are allowed under the World Trade Organization, have increased. Already, American rice farmers face strict limitations on their exports to the European Union, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, and are banned altogether from Russia and Bulgaria because unapproved genetically engineered rice "escaped" during open-field trials on GMO rice. Certain Thai exports-particularly canned fruit salads containing papaya to Germany, and sardines in soy oil to Greece and the Netherlands-were recently banned due to threat of contamination by GMOs.   


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