PARIS – France recently passed a food and farm bill aimed at improving farmers’ income, but a provision of the law could be a set up for a World Trade Organization (WTO) showdown. The provision in question prohibits imports of agricultural and food items made using pesticides, herbicides, veterinary medicines and feed ingredients not approved for use in the European Union (EU), the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Dept. of Agriculture reported.
The provision could hamper US exports of animal proteins and other agricultural products. For example, meat from an animal on feed that contains unapproved ingredients would be barred from entering France. Also, France could ban imports of all products treated with glyphosate if the EU decides to ban the chemical, according to FAS.
The farm and food law was an attempt to address French farmers’ lack of negotiating power, FAS noted. But some French farm groups have argued that the country’s own environmental and welfare laws in addition to EU rules drive production costs higher making French farmers uncompetitive — even within the EU.
“Environmental NGOs and farm groups support this provision,” FAS said in its report. “It is not compatible with WTO rules and many officials believe it is unenforceable in Europe’s Common Market.”