The genetic engineering of agriculture has spurred a lively worldwide discussion, and the technology has found both enthusiastic fans and formidable foes. Specifically, the United States has signed on as a proponent of the genetic modification of agriculture. In fact, the United States has become the largest producer of genetically modified organisms ("GMOs") and is consequently the leading exporter of genetically modified goods. On the other side of this debate lies the European Community ("EC"). The European Community is much less enthusiastic about GMOs and effectively questions their presence in our environment and food products. The European Community has focused on the risks that GMOs potentially pose to environmental and human health, and accordingly, have regulated GMO trade. These markedly different positions have created strained trade relations between the United States and the European Community. The European Community believes that, in light of the "scientific uncertainty" and consumer mistrust surrounding GMOs, it is of utmost necessity to regulate GM goods in order to protect and preserve consumer and environmental health. The United States points out that the risks posed by GMOs are only "potential," and that the prospective benefits of GM agriculture may be too great to sacrifice to precautionary measures. It appears, then, that the United States believes the European Community's GMO regulation scheme to be simply thinly veiled protectionism in violation of international trade law, which ultimately reigns supreme over Community law. Consequently, the United States has looked to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ("GATT") and its accompanying Agreements, the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures ("SPS") and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade ("TBT"), to end the European Community's restriction on GMO trade and to demonstrate that Europe's protectionist measures amount to illegal Non-Trade Barriers ("NTBs") according to the current international trade regime.
The ABCs and NTBs of GMOs: The Great European Union-United States Trade Debate - Do European Restrictions on the Trade of Genetically Modified Organisms Violate Internaitonal Trade Law,
Nw. J. Int'l L. & Bus.