By now, most of you have probably heard about some rogue GM wheat in Oregon (hopefully any of you who live in that area are staying safe -- keep your head down, and stick to corn-based cereals for a while). Basically, as I understand it, some genetically engineered wheat was found on an Oregon farm, but no such wheat has ever been approved by the FDA. Now Japan and South Korea are concerned, and there has been talk of suspending U.S. wheat exports.
This is one of those issues where I have more questions than answers. Here are some questions:
-- My understanding is that there are plenty of GM foods out there. As a Seattle Times article notes: "Although Japan does not want genetically modified wheat, it does import genetically engineered papayas, resistant to a devastating plant disease. It also imports genetically modified corn, soybeans and canola, though it is unclear how much of that is used for human consumption." Why such a concern about GM wheat? Is human consumption really that important? If you are putting it in animal feed, doesn't it eventually get to humans?
-- Who exactly is halting purchases? Is this the private sector deciding not to buy, or the government blocking U.S. imports? Obviously, it is the latter that it most important for trade law.
-- If this is a situation where there is a government ban, what are the trade law implications? I assume we can go straight to the SPS Agreement on this one. What is the science here? Apparently, no FDA approval was ever sought (although the FDA says it's safe). So what exactly are the potential harms? I don't feel like I've gotten any good information from either side of the debate on this issue.