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Lord Taverne: My Lords, I begin by referring to the maiden speech made by my noble friend Lord Vallance of Tummel. There are not many people in this House who have his industrial experience. Certainly, on our Benches there are unfortunately very few. But it is particularly rare to hear a speech of such quality, because many industrialists are appointed but not heard. The noble Lord, Lord Vallance, is a most eloquent speaker and it is not any disrespect to the quality of the other speeches in this debate to say that his, in my view—and many will agree—was the outstanding speech of the debate.

I should also thank the chairman for his skilful and genial chairmanship of our committee, which is, perhaps, one reason why our deliberations were all sweetness and light. There was no dissent within it—indeed, we also agreed with other institutions. We agree with the Commission; the Commission agrees with us; we agree with the Government; and, it seems, that the Government agree with us. It was particularly encouraging to discover that after the disaster of Cancun that all the parties seem to have come to their senses and the prospects look fairly reasonable at the moment.

We are mainly concerned with the stand of the European Union. Those who want the Doha round to succeed and are concerned with the attitude of the EU should note the benefit that membership brings, as my noble friend Lord Vallance pointed out, by having one negotiator on behalf of the Union as a whole. Can you imagine what sort of concessions would be made by Europe on agricultural policy if all the members of the EU negotiated separately? One would never achieve any agreement or concessions—and those concessions are important.

It is also worth noting that the committee was wholly behind the WTO and the free trade process. That brings me to the speeches of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester and that of the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich. Of course, we completely agree with the comments of the right reverend Prelate regarding the ruinous effect of European subsidies. It is a scandal, as he said. As the noble Lord, Lord Judd, pointed out, it is intolerable. Although it is a scandal that we hope will be remedied in the course of the negotiations, it is no answer to suggest that those countries should now have the right, as the noble Lord said, to intervene in their own economies. In practice, that would mean the pursuit of protectionist policies which would be totally against our experience in the world generally.

For example, Taiwan opened its borders and has become one of the prosperous countries of Asia. Look at the contrast between South Korea and North Korea. At one stage in 1950, the standard of living in North Korea was far higher than that of South Korea. Look at the contrast between the two now. Look at the experience of Singapore. Look at the experience of India, which followed a policy of protectionism and achieved only a low rate of growth. Since that country liberalised trade, its rate of growth has taken off.
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The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, said that free trade simply leads to greater inequality, but that is totally contrary to the statistics that have been collected by the World Bank and by other international organisations. Recently, there have been a number of books written about international trade, which demonstrate that clearly—Martin Wolf's book, an excellent book by Philip Le Grain and a book by Mr Baghwati. There is no case against free trade and it is a mistake for policies to be pursued which take that line.

It is worth mentioning the nature of the opposition to free trade and to the WTO. I am afraid that some of the NGOs played less than a constructive part, as many of our witnesses testified, at Cancun in advising the larger group of newcomers who came to the negotiation for the first time. Who are the campaigners who demonstrate against the WTO? They are a motley crew. They are trade unionists protecting their own industries against the lower paid workers of poor countries, linking arms with NGOs who are dedicated to relieving poverty in the world.

Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, for giving way. Is that his considered view of the role that international trade unionists are playing on trade and development? If it is not, should he not choose his words with a little more care?

Lord Taverne: My Lords, I stand corrected. I stand in a white sheet. I was pointing out that these trade unionists were protesting about the competition from workers in poorer countries and there is no question that they were very evident at Seattle. That does not represent the trade union movement as a whole, because the movement in this country has an extremely good record in seeking to help the developing world.

However, it is an extraordinary collection when Churches are protesting against Third World debt side by side with anarchists, vegans with meat importers, and pacifists with militant anti-capitalists. The driving forces behind the campaign are, unfortunately, the green NGOs and the aid NGOs, many of them motivated by the best motives. It was they who celebrated when the Cancun negotiations broke down.

It is worth noting that these demonstrators have much more support in rich countries than they have in poor countries. A world-wide poll was recently carried out by the Pew Global Attitude Survey among 38,000 people in 44 countries. It showed that in the developing countries there was much more support for international investment and integration. For example, in Uganda and Vietnam, two countries which received a substantial amount of foreign investment, those who thought that growing economic integration was "very good" for their country was 56 per cent and 64 per cent respectively. Only 28 per cent thought so in the Unites States and in Europe. The anti-globalisation protestors were approved of by 35 per cent in rich countries, but only by 28 per cent in Africa.

Indeed, the anti-free-trade protestors do not help those they claim to help. What is wrong with free trade is that there is not enough of it. Lack of access to the
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agricultural markets of Europe for the developing countries is a scandal, as many people have rightly declared. So are the export subsidies for European and American farmers. The trouble with the WTO is that it is not powerful enough. And what is the positive message of the protestors? There is not one.

The core of the movement represents an emotional reaction against power, authority and technology; us against them. Seattle, which started it all, was in the words of a star of the protesting movement, Naomi Klein,

And what is the message from the Port Alegre Forum? It is that we should put people before profits and that we need more power to the people. Ultimately, it amounts to a slogan which was evident in Genoa, saying simply, "Capitalism should be replaced by something nicer".

I want to make one other point. Our report referred to the non-tariff barriers to trade—for example, regulatory requirements—but did not go into that. I want to give one example which I fear will prove to be very serious in the future. As a result of pressure from some of the same NGOs which oppose the WTO, the regulatory system in Europe for genetically modified crops provides no benefit and already causes serious damage to the developing countries.

The European regulations regulate the process, not the product. As a result, products which are virtually identical and equally safe are treated differently. Added to that irrationality, regulations for labelling and traceability go far beyond the requirement to ensure consumer choice. The requirements for traceability, for example, will mean that exporters to Europe will have to maintain separate grain elevators and separate freight wagons, barges and drying and processing facilities. Exports will become uneconomic and will drive GM products out of the European market altogether. Not only are these regulations a recipe for trade war between the European Union and the United States, in which the European Union will be wholly in the wrong, but the consequences for the third world are far more serious.

China is now the leading country in the development of GM crops for developing countries. Its motto has been: let a thousand GM crops bloom. It has developed more than 141 types of GM crops, of which 65 are already in field trials, and they could make an enormous contribution to the agriculture of the developing world. Yet hardly any commercial licences have been granted because of the effect that that would have on exports to Europe and, as the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, pointed out, to Japan, which is also protectionist. Exports to Europe would be very adversely affected if they had any GM content.

The European Union's oppressive regulations cast a shadow over the cultivation of crops all over the rest of the world, although these crops have an enormous contribution to make in feeding the world. The regulations are already affecting Africa, Brazil and
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India. India has become a centre for biotechnology and may well soon overtake the United Kingdom. GM crops in India are spreading like wildfire.

I said that there were no countervailing benefits because it is clear that these crops are safe, or at least as safe as conventional crops. That has been the verdict of every international academy of science that has ever looked at the issue. More than 70 million hectares are now farmed in 17 different countries and no evidence of damage to human health or the environment has emerged.

Therefore, these regulations are not only a triumph of ideology over reason but they are a barrier to free trade, and they will, in time, be just as serious a threat to third-world farmers as export subsidies or the other unattractive features of the CAP.

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