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Soybean growers give views on U.S.-EU trade agreement

The United States should not reach a free trade agreement with the European Union unless it deals with biotech labeling and renewable energy standards that are barriers to U.S. soybean sales, the American Soybean Association told the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in a letter this week.
Steve Wellman

Steve Wellman
“Central to our concerns with EU biotech labeling and renewable energy regulations is the fact that they represent discriminatory non-tariff barriers to U.S. access to EU markets for soybeans and soybean products, and have no basis in scientific fact,” wrote ASA President Steve Wellman.

“Instead, the EU has invoked the so-called Precautionary Principle, under which unsubstantiated concerns about the safety of biotech products to health and the environment are deemed sufficient to require labeling them,” Wellman said.

“Similarly, the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) establishes arbitrary criteria for the production of soybeans and other commodities in order to meet sustainability requirements and be eligible as feedstocks for biofuels used in EU Member States,” added Wellman.

“In combination with the EU’s biotech labeling regulations, the RED will effectively eliminate imports of U.S. soybeans, since soybean oil will not be used either as an ingredient in food products or as a feedstock for biodiesel production.”

U.S. soybean exports to the EU have already been severely impacted by its biotech labeling and RED regulations during the last 13 years, Wellman added.

Noting that other commercial interests have suggested that agriculture be excluded from the FTA because ag issues are too difficult, Wellman said, “Agriculture is too important as an export industry for the U.S. to not address it in any new FTA negotiations.”