3 January 2002
USA to push for more farm reform

By Isabel Davies in Oxford

THE USA will continue to use World Trade Organisation talks to push for further reforms to agriculture, said US agriculture secretary Ann Veneman.

The diversity of farming in the 21st century meant new policies were needed to fit specific issues, she told the Oxford Farming Conference.

“The one-size-fits-all approach to policy is clearly out-moded”, Ms Veneman told delegates on Thursday (3 January).

The USA was committed to seeking further trade reforms in WTO negotiations, as it would benefit both the developed and developing world, she added.

Liberalisation would bring long-term benefits, Ms Veneman insisted. “Non-trade issues cannot be allowed to undermine key aims and divert us.”

But the quest for freer trade did not automatically mean the end of support for agriculture, she indicated.

“There is nothing in the WTO which says countries cannot support agriculture. What it does talk about is the different ways it can be supported.

“It is a question of how support is given and whether it is market distorting.”

Ms Veneman also suggested that the precautionary principle adopted by the European Union towards biotechnology should be reviewed.

The precautionary principle was over-cautious and policies regulating genetic modification should be based on sound science, she said.