US and 15 others criticize EU regulation of farm products at WTO

The United States and 15 other countries came with some serious criticism aimed at the European Union on Thursday, saying its “hazard-based” approach to regulating pesticides and other “critical tools” used by farmers was damaging livelihoods worldwide.

Their statement, submitted to the World Trade Organization, said the EU’s approach created great uncertainty and diverged from science-based risk assessments, creating disruption that threatened to escalate significantly in coming years.

They called on the EU to re-evaluate its approach to product approvals, use internationally accepted methods of setting tolerance levels for potentially harmful ingredients, and stop “unnecessarily and inappropriately” restricting trade.

The statement was backed by Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States and Uruguay.

Despite repeated requests at the WTO over the past four years, the EU had not explained what level of protection it was seeking or what risks it was trying to mitigate, and it had ignored comments on draft regulations, they said.

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The EU had suggested farmers could find “alternatives” to meet EU rules, but such demands rang hollow, the statement said, since many farmers had no such economically viable options, with a disproportionate effect on millions of agriculture-dependant families in developing economies and least developed countries.


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