John B. Richardson
European Commission, Belgium

Despite the rhetoric, the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) share a common attitude towards farming and its role in society and, as a result, their policies are converging rapidly. The rationale behind the policy instruments used in agriculture reflects dissimilarity of geography, history, traditions, and mentalities between the US and the EU. These differences may in some cases lead to diverse societal approaches and policy decisions, such as in the case of hormone-treated beef or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which tend to become bilateral trade conflicts. However, these transatlantic trade irritants (which represent less than 2% of the bilateral agricultural trade between the EU and the US) should not overshadow the fact that the EU and the US share the same goal and commitment to maintaining and developing agriculture in rural communities, and that they recognize the need for support of agriculture, though in different ways.

Key words: Genetically modified organisms; GMOs; bilateral trade; conflicts; rural communities.