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EU delays agreement on biotech rules

(Friday, Oct. 11, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- Instead of agreeing on strict new rules for the labeling and traceability of genetically engineered foods during their meetings next week, European Union agriculture and environment ministers report that they'll likely restrict their agenda to further discussions. This delay will hold up progress on lifting the 4-year-old EU moratorium on new genetically engineered crops.

While the European parliament last summer voted in favor of draft legislation that would mandate a label on all foods containing more than 0.5 percent genetically modified ingredients, the executive body of the EU, the European Commission, favors a 1 percent threshold.

U.S. officials have demanded that the the EU lift the moratorium, which they claim has cost U.S. corn growers on the order of $200 million a year in lost exports.

The EU executive body, the European Commission, last year recommened lifting the moratorium. That didn't happen in large part because France, Italy, Denmark, Austria, Greece and Luxembourg. balked. They want the strictest labeling and traceability standards in place before the moratorium is lifted.

Editor's note: On the subject of the $200 million in lost corn corn sales, one should bear in mind that farmers don't export grain. Cargill, Bunge, ADM and other transnational agribusiness companies do.