Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Hypocrisy in Europe: Genetically Modified Foods

Article, “European Official Faults Ban on Genetically Altered Feed,” was published in the New York Times on November 27, 2007.

Statements from the article: “The European agriculture commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, warned farm ministers on Monday that Europe’s resistance to importing genetically modified products like livestock feed was contributing to the rising cost of raising pigs and chickens and could pose a threat to the meat industry.

My opinion: The hypocrisy is overwhelming. Now that the prices in world agricultural markets are rising, the Europeans are reassessing their ethical views and standards.

For years, Europeans (Western, or course) have been contemptuous in their dealings with the producers of agricultural goods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMO). They were staunch in their principles and regard of GMO food products' negative effects on health, safety, and of course, environmental quality. In 2002, the Committee on the Environmental, Public Health and Food Safety, elected to attach a series of tariffs to products derived from GMOs. This affected the exports of U.S. corn and soybean directly.

Tariffs create an increase in the prices of the goods to the importing country. The tariff is a tax that exporters must pay upon the shipment’s arrival to the importing country (corn, for example). The exporter (U.S. corn farmer) passes the cost of the tariff on to the consumer in the importing country (France, for example) by increasing the sale price of the good in the importing market. Now, the rising cost of feed for livestock can be lowered in Europe by…………repealing the tariffs?

Even Mariann Fischer Boel admits, via her spokesman, “that the European Union’s zero-tolerance policy toward genetically modified foods comes at a ‘potential major cost.’” Go figure - perhaps Ms. Fischer Boel can even talk the Committee on the Environmental, Public Health and Food Safety to repeal the tariffs on GMO-related agricultural commodities.

Isn’t it ironic how the Europeans are willing to sacrifice their precious standards regarding food, and perhaps import GMO agricultural goods even though the goods may be related to problems with health, safety, and environment? I hope that the population survives when genetically modified food is introduced into the economy.

I am surprised that this is breaking news.

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