IFOAM Position at WTO Seattle

Delegates of IFOAM where present at the WTO ministerial in December 1999. They advocated for the following position:    

  1. IFOAM views the harmonization of markets as a positive development, in principle, from a global historical perspective.
  2. IFOAM supports in principle the development of a multilateral rule based system for global trade and government disciplines.
  3. IFOAM supports the participation of NGOs and the private sector in GATT/WTO.  Their participation could be through the multilateral global sector or trade forums such as IFOAM, ILO, etc.
  4. IFOAM advocates, in principle, free trade for organic products, taking into account the impact on the environment and social welfare.
  5. IFOAM takes no position on the issue of taking agriculture out of the WTO.
  6. IFOAM considers that the introduction of organic agriculture, proper national and international agricultural policies, democracy and social security are the most relevant measures for ensuring food security. IFOAM supports the principle that food produced from local natural resources for local consumption to the extent possible is the basis of the organic farming concept and of sustainable agriculture and is necessary for long-term sustainable food security. IFOAM has no position on the Food Security box proposal.
  7. In principle, IFOAM does not support subsidies to the agricultural sector.  However, if subsidies are used, IFOAM supports allocation of subsidies to encourage organic agriculture. IFOAM supports the principle that farmers should be paid for services for the benefit of environment and society, beyond food production.
  8. IFOAM supports the initiatives to remove export subsidies and to protect domestic markets from dumping activities.
  9. IFOAM advocates greater transparency in pricing of agricultural products, particularly the internalization of production-related pollution costs.
  10. IFOAM objects to the use of GMO in agriculture and food production in general (as expressed in the Mar del Plata declaration). IFOAM supports a worldwide moratorium on GMOs in agriculture and food production.
  11. WTO agreements shall not hinder non-governmental labeling systems based on PPMs, or other non-product related labeling standards, like organic labeling, environmental labeling or fair trade labeling.
  12. IFOAM believes that the principles in the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade encourage the use of international standards and criteria for production and processing methods and, as such, encourages the use of IFOAM Basic Standards and IFOAM Accreditation Criteria for Organic Certification.

Approved by the WB October 99 and revised by the EB 21st November 1999.