Public opinion in Bulgaria is currently strongly opposed to GMOs, and this is a determining factor in the conservative and restrictive domestic policy that has to date been pursued in these matters. In recent months, it has increasingly been claimed that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada may pose a threat to the current EU rules on the import of genetically modified products. One of the arguments most frequently adduced in support of that claim is that in Canada it is not obligatory to list GMOs on food labels.
1. Is there a risk that CETA will bring about changes in the current EU legal framework in this field and in the rules on the control, labelling and tracking of GMOs in foodstuffs? 2. How will compliance with the requirements of EC law in respect of the placing on the market and use of genetically modified organisms be ensured? 3. Is there a risk that once CETA enters into force, genetically modified products will find their way onto the European market unbeknown to European citizens?
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which was signed on 30 October 2016 and which is now being considered in the European Parliament before it can be provisionally applied, will not lower any of the EU standards. The EU standards for products and services will remain in place as they are and there is no provision in CETA which will amend, reduce or eliminate any EU standard.
A bilateral trade agreement such as CETA does not include the freedom to disregard our laws and regulations, but only the right for the third country’s goods and services to be accepted on the EU market under the same conditions as EU goods and services. Therefore, all products will continue to be imported into the EU in conformity with EU legislation, and CETA does not undermine that in any way. As regards genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the EU has a rigorous authorisation process in place. CETA does not impact on this approval process.
In its Chapter 25 on dialogues and bilateral cooperation, CETA foresees to maintain a dialogue between the Parties on biotechnology market access issues. The main objective is to exchange information on issues of mutual interest. This dialogue had already been agreed by the EU and Canada before CETA, as part of the Mutually Agreed Solution reached on 15 July 2009 on the World Trade Organisation dispute European Communities — Measures Affecting the Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products (WT/DS292).