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Farm state senators call for WTO case on European biotech ban

(Saturday, Dec. 21, 2002 -- CropChoice news) --

Reuters: A group of senators from U.S. farm states has, in a letter to President George W. Bush, called on his administration to lodge a formal complaint against the EU's ban on genetically modified goods, saying there is no sign the EU will open its market voluntarily.

The senators, led by incoming Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, petitioned for filing a World Trade Organization complaint against the European Union, stating, "We urge you to take that step without delay."

Bush's Cabinet is expected to debate whether a WTO complaint against the EU should be filed. But U.S. officials have noted that doing so is problematic for many reasons, including the possibility it could prompt the EU to retaliate in other trade disputes. They also fret it could strain ties with Europe as the allies are considering war against Iraq.

A U.S. agriculture industry source last week told Reuters the letter from the senators was being crafted in part to give the White House additional political cover for launching the trade case in Geneva.