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3-Food: EU's Nielson blasts US "lies" in GM food row

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                                  PART I
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TITLE:  EU's Nielson blasts US "lies" in GM food row
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   Jan 22, 2003

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EU's Nielson blasts US "lies" in GM food row

BRUSSELS - The European Union's overseas aid chief accused the United
States this week of spreading lies about the EU's stance on genetically
modified (GM) food.

European Development Commissioner Poul Nielson said U.S. Trade
Representative Robert Zoellick lied when, earlier this month, he said
some EU governments had threatened to withdraw aid from poor countries
that used biotechnology food products.

"This very negative lie has been circulated and repeated recently by
Robert Zoellick," Nielson said at a press briefing ahead of a visit to
southern Africa later this month.

Washington is frustrated with the EU's four-year moratorium on new
biotech products, a policy U.S. farmers say costs them hundreds of
millions of dollars in sales each year.

Only a handful of GM crops are allowed to be imported or grown in the EU
where there is widespread consumer concern about possible risks to health
or the environment.

Some African countries have been reluctant to accept GM food aid from the
United States, fearing grain could be used as seed and affect future
exports. EU officials have rejected U.S. demands that they allay the
African countries' fears.

On January 9, Zoellick called the European view "Luddite". He said he
found it immoral that Africans were not supplied with food because people
had invented fears about biotechnology.

He also said he favoured bringing a World Trade Organisation case against
the EU for blocking imports of U.S. GM crops.

Nielson said Zoellick had gone too far.

"This is a strange discussion. Very strange," Nielson told reporters. "We
are approaching a point where I would be tempted to say I would be
proposing a deal to the Americans which would create a more normal situation.

"The deal would be this: if the Americans would stop lying about us, we
would stop telling the truth about them. This is a proposal for
normalising the discussion."

It was time for a more civilised exchange of views, he said.

Nielson was one of six EU commissioners who wrote to the Wall Street
Journal last week, attacking a pro-Zoellick editorial and accusing U.S.
officials of peddling rumours.

A European Commission official said the EU executive had decided it was
time to go on the offensive.

"I'm not convinced the future lies in pursuing a slanging match but at
some point we have to draw the line and put the record straight," the
official said.

Later this month, the Commission will host a conference to discuss the
use of biotechnology in developing countries.

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  EU Denies U.S. Charge of 'Immoral' Biotech Policy
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:  Jan 17, 2003

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EU Denies U.S. Charge of 'Immoral' Biotech Policy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A transatlantic war of words over the European
Union's moratorium on genetically modified crops heated up on Friday as
top EU aides accused the United States of spreading rumors about Europe's
aid policies.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy
denied either the EU or individual member states made their aid for
African countries contingent on those nations banning genetically
modified crops.

"We very much regret that U.S. officials are peddling this rumor, and
even more that you gave credence to it without checking with the EU,"
Lamy said.

The letter responded to a recent WSJ opinion piece praising U.S. Trade
Representative Robert Zoellick for his criticism of Europe's "immoral"
stance on genetically modified crops.

It was also signed by EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler,
Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Poul Nielsen, Health and
Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne, Environment Commissioner
Margot Wallstrom and External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten.

Last week, Zoellick said U.S. patience with the EU's four-year-old
moratorium on the approval of genetically modified crops was running out,
and that he now favored taking Brussels to the World Trade Organization
to end the ban.

Zoellick also told reporters the United States had received information
that some EU member states had told developing countries that they could
not use biotechnology food products if they want to continue receiving

"I find it immoral that people are not being supplied with food to live
in Africa because people have invented dangers about biotechnology," he said.

Zoellick repeated the charge in interviews this week in Africa, where he
was attending a trade ministers meeting.

"When I was in Africa (last year) a couple of African ministers told me
of actions by (EU) member states, not the (European) Commission, but
member states, that in various ways were trying to stop them from
biotechnology development and using aid to do that," Zoellick said.

"I have mentioned this to my friend, Commissioner Lamy. I know it is not
his view, but all I can do is report what I have been told by some of the
African ministers. And I think it is extremely sad and disturbing," he said.

U.S. farmers say they have lost hundreds of millions of dollar of sales
because of the EU's moratorium.

The United States is a major producer of biotech foods, with about 70
percent of soybeans and more than 25 percent of corn grown from
genetically modified seeds. The biotech company Monsanto Co. hopes to
bring biotech wheat to market.

Concern about maintaining good trade relations with the EU apparently was
one factor in Zambia's decision last year not to accept genetically
modified corn under U.S. food aid programs.

Lamy denied the EU has used its influence to persuade African nations not
to accept genetically modified crops.

"The EU has never suggested to African governments that GM (genetically
modified) foods are unsafe -- in fact, we made available to them our
scientific research for the GM varieties we have approved. Neither has it
said that GM should not be allowed into their countries," he said.

President Bush's cabinet is expected to meet later this month to decide
whether to launch a WTO case against the EU. Brussels argues the move
would be counterproductive because the EU is already moving to lift its

The U.S. Trade Representative's office had no immediate reaction to the
EU accusation it was spreading "unsubstantiated" rumors.