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7-Business: U.S. Senator Grassley will file biotech complaintversus EU



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TITLE:  Sen. Grassley-US will file biotech complaint vs EU
SOURCE: Reuters, by Richard Cowan
DATE:   Feb 12, 2003

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Sen. Grassley-US will file biotech complaint vs EU

WASHINGTON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The United States intends to push ahead
with a World Trade Organization complaint against the European Union's
biotech policy, but only after it irons out "political problems" related
to allied support for a war in Iraq, a senior Republican senator said on
Wednesday.

The Bush administration recently appeared ready to lodge the WTO protest
in hopes of getting the EU to lift its moratorium on approving
genetically-modified goods.

But last week, during a visit to Washington, EU Farm Commissioner Franz
Fischler said he had been told by U.S. officials that the decision had
been put on hold.

Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, who chairs a Senate committee that
oversees U.S. trade policy, told reporters that the looming Iraq war was
the reason for the Bush administration delaying an announcement of a
trade complaint.

"I expect that until the political problems over the Iraq war with
Germany and France are over and Europe generally, there won't be a case
filed. But there will be a case filed."

Germany and France have been among the loudest European critics of
President George W. Bush's apparent plans to use military force against
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein soon.

Grassley, who ardently supports challenging the EU's biotech policy at
the WTO, noted that he had spoken to top White House staff and two Bush
Cabinet heads about the trade case.

CORN SHIPMENTS HAMPERED

But he stopped short of saying that any of those officials had assured
him the WTO complaint eventually would be filed.

Grassley represents a leading corn-producing state and U.S. corn
shipments to the EU have been hampered by its refusal to approve new
biotech products since 1998. An estimated $300 million in agricultural
sales to the EU are lost each year because of the EU policy.

Last month, Grassley urged the Bush administration "to get off its duff
and make a decision" to take legal steps against the EU moratorium.

Besides political problems related to Iraq, some U.S. officials also have
expressed concerns that filing a WTO complaint would further harden
European consumer attitudes against biotech goods.

Nonetheless, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick has been outspoken
in his desire to take the EU to the WTO.

But one source told Reuters last week that the State Department at the
last minute interceded to hold up the U.S. action out of concern about
European support for an Iraq war.

Grassley questioned the Bush administration's second thoughts, telling
reporters, "I don't understand why any American public official would
mind offending the French and the Germans right now."

Grassley said he wasn't expecting Germany to commit any troops or
financial resources to a possible war against Iraq. "I don't want one
drop of German blood, one German euro, all I want is German moral
support," he said.