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US wants to deal with GMO in the SPS agreement

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I planned to sent the below message via GENET-news but could not find out which newspaper/press agency published this piece. Since I consider it as worthwhile to read I post it with GENET-forum - and apologize for the missing source.


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US grain group may hire ex-USTR head for GMO issue
July 21, 1999

BOSTON - The U.S. Grains Council may hire former U.S. Trade
Representative Carla Hills to lobby world leaders in support of
genetically-modified crops, council officials said. The idea
behind the plan is to try to reverse the tide of negative
publicity in Latin America and Asia that threatens the future of
genetically-modified crops, said Richard Krajeck, vice president
of the grains council. A committee within the influential grains
council recommended spending about $300,000 to hire Hills and her
consulting firm over the next year.

The full U.S. Grains Council board of directors will vote on the
proposal Tuesday. Although U.S. scientists and regulators have
appoved a number of genetically-modified corn and soybean
varieties for planting, stiff resistance from the European Union
is threatening global acceptance of the new varieties. The Grains
Council had considered launching a worldwide consumer education
programme for genetically-modified corps, but rejected that idea
as too expensive. Hills, who was U.S. trade representative under
President George Bush, would be hired to speak with world leaders
on the benefits of genetically-modified crops, as well as the
amount of research on the new technologies being done outside the
United States, Krajeck said. Her major focus would be to meet
with leaders in Asia and Latin America, rather than the EU, to
keep those countries from following Europe's lead, he said.
"She's not making any promises, nor are we, that it can all be
turned around," Krajeck said. "But we need to do something."

On other issues, the council's International Government Affairs
Committee voted to endorse:
- a "single undertaking" of the next round of World Trade
  Organisation talks that begin in late November, rather than an
  "early harvest" approach that would let some sectors be
  finished ahead of others;
- the inclusion of labour and environmental provisions in the WTO
  talks if those do not interfere with trade;
- negotiations aimed at clarifying the interpretation of certain
  provisions of the so-called "sanitary phytosanitary agreement,"
  rather than completely reopening the pact;
U.S. trade officials want to fold biotechnology issues into
the science-based SPS agreement, without giving the EU the
opportunity to weaken the pact by allowing unscientifically
justified consumer concerns to play a role in food safety

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