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New EU bioengineering law likely to end moratorium

(February 15, 2001 -- Cropchoice news) -- The European Union Parliament yesterday approved new rules on genetically modified organisms. The policy, set to begin in 18 months, likely will end Europe's two-year moratorium on bioengineered seeds and food.

Under the new policy, biotech companies must apply for licenses -- good for 10 years -- and pass approval processes. A central database will track all transgenic products and mark the locations of all crops.

The Parliament is still working on a bill, which might be ready by April, that will set food labeling and tracing requirments.

As far as the moratorium is concerned, The Guardian reports: "The European Commission is desperate to lift the moratorium as soon as possible because it fears it will be sued by increasingly frustrated US multinationals such as Monsanto."

Several countries, including France, Italy and Denmark, say they'll resist conforming with the new law.

Sources: The New York Times, The Guardian