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The Scent of GM Papaya: The Rough Road to Biotech Rice

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By mid-2003, the United States had filed its World Trade Organization (WTO) suit against Europe, with government officials crowing in the background that Europe's stonewalling was costing American farmers $300 million per year in lost export income. In fact, U.S. corn exports to Europe had fallen dramatically since the wide-scale advent of GM crops from a high of 3.3 million tons in 1995 to a paltry 25,000 tons in 2002. This agricultural bloodletting resulting from Europe's stubbornness, combined with the last minute backing out of fair-weather friend Egypt in the WTO suit, had led the Bush administration to recognize that it needed to be proactive and start sealing up any gaps with its second tier of trading partners.

Thailand is the eighteenth largest trading partner of the United States and had proven its ability to both prosper and follow Washington's suggestions prior to the great Asian financial crisis of 1997. Thus, it seemed as good a place as any to start. Thailand had recently signed an agricultural Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China that cut trade tariffs to zero. Weakened and vulnerable as Thailand was in the aftermath of the financial crisis, it seemed it should be relatively easy for the United States to construct a FTA with which Thailand would readily comply. An added bonus was the hope that countering Thailand's recent agreement with China with a trade pact of its own would keep the United States favorably privileged in the face of competition from Thailand's closer Communist neighbor. On October 20, 2003, the Bush administration announced its intent to consult with Congress on the Thailand FTA proposal as mandated by the U.S. Trade Promotion Authority. Then formal pursuit of the FTA could begin, after a required ninetyday waiting period during which additional consultations were to take place.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 10, 2008

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