The World Trade Organization is expected to render a pro-U.S.verdict this week on charges brought by the U.S. that Europe is illegally restricting imports of genetically modified crops. According to the New York Times, the American government and the biotechnology industry believe such a ruling would discourage other nations from following Europe's lead in restricting farm biotechnology. It would also benefit companies that supply the chemicals needed to bioengineer food, including Monsanto, DuPont and Dow Chemical, as well as the European companies Syngenta and Bayer.
In its complaint, the U.S., joined by Canada and Argentina, said European officials placed a moratorium on approving new biotech varieties in 1998, which violated a global treaty on food standards. Europe has denied the moratorium, countering that such decisions required time because the crops pose risks to health and the environment. According to the Times report, use of biotech crops has grown steadily in the past decade, and the U.S. accounts for more than half the worldwide acreage devoted to it. Biotech crops are mainly soybeans, corn and cotton that contain bacterial genes that resist herbicides or insects.