"In May 2003, the United States, Canada, and Argentina challenged in World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement the European Union's (EU's) de facto moratorium on biotechnology product approvals in place since 1998. Although the EU effectively lifted the moratorium in May 2004 by approving a genetically engineered (GE) corn variety, the three complainants pursued the case, in part because a number of EU member states continue to block approved biotech products. The moratorium reportedly cost U.S. corn growers some $300 million in exports to the EU annually. The EU moratorium, U.S. officials also contend, threatened other agricultural exports not only to the EU, but also to other parts of the world where the EU approach to regulating agricultural biotechnology is taking hold. The EU approach presumes that the products of biotechnology are inherently different from their conventional counterparts and should be more closely regulated. On February 7, 2006, the WTO dispute panel, in its interim confidential report, ruled that a moratorium had existed, that bans on EU-approved GE crops in six EU member countries violated WTO rules, and that the EU failed to ensure that its approval procedures were conducted without 'undue delay.' Other claims by the United States were rejected. This report will be updated."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21556
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