U.S. Calls NAFTA Environmental Report "Flawed, Unscientific"
WASHINGTON – The United States issued the following Administration statement regarding the Secretariat of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) report on genetically modified maize (corn) “Maize and Biodiversity: The Effects of Transgenic Maize in Mexico” released today. The Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Trade Representative issued this joint statement.*
“This report is fundamentally flawed and unscientific; key recommendations are not based on sound science, and are contradicted by the report’s own scientific findings. The authors acknowledge that no economic analysis of their recommendations was conducted, and that many of these recommendations are based solely on socio-cultural considerations.
“While the report’s authors recommend that biotech maize be treated differently from other modern maize hybrids, science tells us the opposite. In fact, the findings of this report echo the prevailing science, supporting our view that biotech maize will have no greater or lesser effect on maize genetic diversity than other modern maize hybrids.
“The report also fails to consider the potential benefits of biotechnology. As the national science academies of Mexico, the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, China and India noted in a joint report, ‘GM technology should be used to increase the production of main food staples, improve the efficiency of production, reduce the environmental impact of agriculture, and provide access to food for small-scale farmers.’ Biotechnology offers the world enormous opportunities to combat hunger and protect the environment.
“Implementing many of the report’s recommendations would cause economic harm to farmers and consumers in all NAFTA countries and restrict international trade. For example, requiring U.S. corn exports to Mexico to be milled at the border would increase the cost of U.S. corn significantly, negatively affecting Mexico’s livestock producers and consumers. Milling corn before transport also raises quality concerns and increases shipping costs, exacerbating the problem. Perhaps most troubling, the report itself acknowledges that this and other recommendations would do nothing to preserve maize biodiversity.
“We are disappointed that this report was leaked before the United States, Canada or Mexico had a full opportunity to review it, and that a member of the Advisory Group spoke publicly about the report before its official release. The final report was delivered to the Parties on September 14. We take these issues seriously and have been using the designated 60-day review guideline to develop a thoughtful response which would ensure that the public is fully informed of the nature of the recommendations in this report. Some have suggested the United States sought to delay or obstruct its release. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Rather the United States and other Parties were simply adhering to the review procedures associated with reports of this nature. While we disagree with many aspects of the report, we believe that our substantive response will set the record straight on this issue.”
Comprehensive U.S. comments on the report are appended to the report and can be found at www.cec.org/maize.
*Updated 11/9/04: US Department of Agriculture and the State Department have been added to this joint statement. They were originally left off due to USTR staff error.