U.S. V. EC-Biotech Products

By- Anjanee Goel[1]

U.S. V. EC-BIOTECH PRODUCTS CASE[2]

Complainant- United States                                 Respondent- European Communities

The United States requested discussions with the EC concerning certain steps taken by the EC and its member nations influencing imports of agrarian and food imports from the United States. With respect to EC-level measures, the United States claimed that the moratorium applied by the EC on the sanction of biotech has limited imports of agrarian and food items from the United States. Regarding State-level measures, the United States claimed that various EC member nations keep up with national marketing and import bans on biotech items despite the fact that those items have already been sanctioned by the EC for import and promotion in the EC.

As indicated by the United States, the measures in question seemed conflicting with the EC’s obligations under:

  • Articles I, III, X and XI of the GATT 1994;
  • Articles 2, 5, 7 and 8, and Annexes B and C of the SPS Agreement;
  • Articles 2 and 5 of the TBT Agreement; and
  • Article 4 of the Agriculture Agreement.

The board found that by application of general de facto moratorium on the sanction of biotech items, the European Communities had acted conflictingly with its responsibilities beneath Article 8 of the SPS Agreement reason being this moratorium prompted undue delays in the fulfillment of EC approval systems.

As to the EC member nation safeguard measures, the panel decreed that the European Communities acted conflictingly with its responsibilities under the SPS Agreement with respect to all of the safeguard measures in question, in light of the fact these measures did not depend on risk assessments fulfilling the meaning of the SPS Agreement and therefore could be assumed to be maintained with no adequate scientific proof.

In 2008, the Dispute resolution board was informed by the European Communities and the United States that they had a mutual understanding of measures under Articles 21 and 22 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding.


[1] 5th Year, BBA LLB (H.) in Corporate Laws, UPES, Dehradun.

[2] EC- Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products (DS291) (See also DS292 and DS293).

Case Notes

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