Washington International Law Journal


Denise M. Lietz


The current international debate surrounding the development of genetically modified ("GM") foods centers around the selection of appropriate regulations to control the new technology's potential food safety risks. Australia and New Zealand have used a precautionary approach to develop their regulatory system for GM foods—a system that will soon include a stringent labeling requirement for all foods containing GM ingredients. The United States, on the other hand, has rejected the precautionary approach to regulating GM foods and does not require mandatory labeling of most GM foods. These differing national regulations may lead to restrictions on the importation of many U.S. agricultural products to Australia and New Zealand. Rather than pursuing a trade dispute settlement through the World Trade Organization, the United States should drop its opposition to mandatory labeling and the use of precaution in food safety measures, and support the Codex Alimentarius Commission in its effort to develop harmonized international standards for GM foods.

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