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6-Regulation: U.S. decided to hold off WTO GE complaint against EU

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-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  US wavers on EU trade spat
SOURCE: British Broadcasting Corporation
DATE:   Feb 20, 2003

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US wavers on EU trade spat

Washington has decided to hold off hauling the European Union before
international trade officials for refusing to allow the sale of
genetically modified produce. The US embassy's official for agricultural
affairs in London, Peter Kurz, told the BBC's Radio 4 Farming Today
programme that a complaint would not be made to the World Trade
Organisation for the time being. Mr Kurz denied the concession was
designed to curry favour among EU nations over a war against Iraq. "I
wouldn't dream of speculating about any connection between this issue and
any... broader urgent issue in the world today," he said. "I happen to
think that this decision is probably made on the merits of the issue
itself." There have been a number of high profile, trade spats in recent
years between the US and the EU. Mr Kurz said the decision "was made at a
high level of government." "I suppose the idea was we don't need further
trade irritants," he said.

US 'may reconsider'

The EU banned all GM products in 1998 except soya, which had already been
approved for sale in Europe. The US claims the ban broke WTO trade rules.
"If there is some way of working this one out then so much the better,"
Mr Kurz said. "If not, then maybe the decision will have to be
reconsidered." The US position is that Europe should not discriminate
against GM crops and produce, and not insist that they are specially
labelled. "This does not mean we're still not very concerned about the
moratorium on approval of new US GM crops or that we are not very
concerned about the position on labelling and traceability," Mr Kurz
said. "We believe that foods should not unnecessarily be labelled when
there is no substantial difference between two foods according to the way
they are produced."