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Canada Canola Still Banned From Europe Despite WTO

At the end of last week the Canadian Governmen went into overdrive, promoting the WTO ruling on Europe's GMO moratorium as a "victory" for GM farmers in Canada:

"The Canadian government says farmers stand to make big gains from a [WTO] trade ruling that opens European markets to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

'This ruling will enable Canadian producers to access European markets and effectively market their products,' International Trade Minister David Emerson said in a release. (Trade ruling on GM foods should help Canadian farmers)

But the Government's claims have now been directly contradicted by Diane Wreford, assistant vice president of public affairs for the Canola Council of Canada, who points out that the E.U. market is still firmly shut to GM canola: "Nothing has changed. There has been no victory."

Canada Canola Still Banned From Europe Despite WTO Ruling
Dow Jones, 28/11/2006

"Nothing has changed," said Diane Wreford, assistant vice president of public affairs for the Canola Council of Canada. "There has been no victory."

She said the WTO ruled that the E.U. was unjustified in blocking genetically modified, or GM, canola imports between 1999 and 2003.

"So what the E.U. is essentially accepting is that they used improper procedures during that timeframe to stop GM canola imports, but now have corrected those procedures," Wreford said.

She said the Canadian government's reaction earlier this week also left the impression that the E.U. market would now be open to GM canola.

"This is incorrect, as each GM canola event (variety) must still be approved by the E.U. before the commodity can be imported," Wreford said.

The Canola Council, or CCC, is working closely with Bayer AG unit (BAY) Bayer CropScience and Monsanto Co. (MON) to ensure the E.U. continues to adhere to its approval process and deadlines, a statement from the CCC to its members on this issue said.

"It is difficult to predict when all the approvals will be in place, but we are hoping that this will occur sometime in 2007," the statement read.

Canadian canola hasn't directly moved to any E.U. member country since March 1998, when a small test sample was allowed in, an export source said.

"Their decision to block Canadian canola remains tied to the biotech issue and is solely based on politics rather than science," the source said.

There is no scientific reason for the E.U. to keep genetically modified canola from entering its system, the source said.A second exporter commented that if the E.U. does eventually accept GM canola imports, all it will do is adjust where the canola is first being shipped to.

"Right now countries like (the U.A.E.) and Turkey are importing Canadian canola, processing the seed and reshipping the finished oil back to Europe for the bio-diesel sector," the exporter said.

The E.U.'s limited canola crush capacity and ever-increasing bio-diesel demand could, however, mean that processed canola oil will still need to be imported from those countries, the exporter acknowledged.