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7-Misc: America Soybean Association calls for WTO to regulate GMOs

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TITLE:  ASA director urges pressure for EU acceptance of GMOs
SOURCE: Resource News International
DATE:   April 14, 1999


ASA director urges pressure for EU acceptance of GMOs

Winnipeg, MB,Canada, Apr. 14, 1999 (Resource News International via COMTEX) -- EU consumers' fears over genetically-modified foods remain and continue to pose a threat to US exports, according to James Hershey, the America Soybean Association's Division Director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Speaking here today at the Canada Grains Council's 30th annual conference, he added the USDA must call for a biotechnology trade regulation framework in the next round of World Trade Organization (WTO) talks. Hershey said the major stumbling block for GMO foods is consumer acceptance, particularly as the suspicion of EU consumers of genetically engineered foods has been significantly enhanced by BSE scares, involving the spread of "mad cow" disease in the EU. The EU represents a huge market for the US, with 8.5 million tonnes of US soybeans, representing as much as 40% of the country's soybean exports, heading to the EU in any given year, he said.

The suspicions originally were sparked in 1996 when Greenpeace in Germany launched an anti-biotechnology campaign, which led to calls for the right of consumers to know whether or not they were eating genetically modified foods, Hershey said. He noted, however, that industry stakeholders in Germany now believe acceptance of biotechnology has been increasing. That acceptance, though, has been offset by growing fears in the UK, he stressed. Calls for labelling and segregation by opponents of GMOs are the most significant regulatory threats, Hershey said. While opposing any ideas of segregation on the grounds it is impossible, considering the amount of Roundup Ready soybeans being grown in the US, he did believe in the separation of non- biotech soybeans from bulk supply on the basis of identify preservation. Such preservation could only work if importers did not insist on zero tolerance of GMOs, and if they accepted the fact that special handling requirements resulting from the !
separation would result in smaller shipments and premium prices for the separated products.

On unapproved varieties of GMOs, ASA recommended the USDA work with or lean on the EU to harmonize its approval process, include a biotechnology trade regulation framework in the next round of the WTO, Hershey said. He added that ASA's policy toward the commercialization of biotechnology foods is for the industry to obtain major market clearances for imports before commercial release. The group is also calling for the institutionalization of controls necessary to keep soybeans out of export channels until clearance for imports was obtained. ASA also is looking for the establishment of documented evidence necessary to show foreign authorities that all products for export had been consumed in the US.


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