|Author (Person)||Frost, Laurence|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol 7, No.12, 22.3.01, p2|
THE US has intervened to voice trade concerns over a delayed European Commission proposal to force food firms to disclose details of genetically-modified organisms in their products.
Officials in Washington are urging the EU executive to water down 'traceability' measures that would force companies at every stage in the food chain to keep detailed records of the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) present in shipments to the EU.
"Basically, we're worried that a system should not be put in place that is extremely burdensome and trade-distorting," said one US diplomat. "These concerns are being made at a variety of levels."
Groups representing US industries from farms to factories have gone further, warning of a full-scale trade war if the proposal is implemented in its current form. The draft rule on traceability is one of the conditions for the lifting of a de facto ban on new GM product approvals by the six blocking countries - France, Denmark, Italy, Austria, Greece and Luxembourg.
"We don't want a trade war over this," said Thomas Donohue, president of the US Chamber of Commerce. "But if it results in trade barriers it will get ugly - we're going to insist on a system which doesn't discriminate against our scientific advancements."
Donohue is flying to Brussels on Sunday (25 March) for meetings with EU leaders including Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and his enterprise counterpart Erkki Liikanen.
"It's a very foolish way to look at scientific advancement," Donohue added.
At the centre of the dispute are the growers, traders and manufacturers who deal in bulk commodities, such as wheat, in which hundreds of non-GM varieties are mixed together in the same shipments.
US firms say their costs would sky-rocket if new rules forced them to keep records of exactly which varieties were present in products destined for the EU - currently worth an estimated €4 billion a year.
There are signs that the working draft of the regulation is likely to be diluted.
One proposal put forward by industry groups would allow a food company to list the approved GMOs that could be present in a product, without specifying which of them actually are.
"That is one of the options we are considering," said a Commission official.
But environmental groups warn that a 'may-contain' approach will not restore public confidence in GMOs.
Gill Lacroix of Friends of the Earth said, "It doesn't really tell the consumer anything."
The US has intervened to voice trade concerns over a delayed European Commission proposal to force food firms to disclose details of genetically-modified organisms in their products.
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry|
|Countries / Regions||United States|