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3-Food: The "U.S. war on hunger" is thwarted by the EU



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Dear GENET-news readers,

reading following sentences:

"The United States is in the middle of a war that receives little notice,
and one in which former European allies again are standing in the way of
progress. It's the war on hunger, and it's being thwarted by European
Union nations that oppose genetically modified (GM) crops developed in
the United States."

and

"Thomas, returning from a visit to several southern African nations that
trade with Europe, offered a harsh assessment of European trade policies,
calling a 'horrendous anti-humanitarian move' the European Union's
pressure on African nations not to accept U.S. food aid when the food has
been genetically modified, calling the policy 'outrageous.' Thomas said
there was not yet a 'smoking gun' that proved the Europeans had applied
such pressure, but indicated that he was researching the issue."

I am rather happy to have the WTO and its court system that demands
proofs. Otherwise the authors might have suggested other means to secure
the US' interests in the EU.

Hartmut Meyer


                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Thomas, Grassley Urge WTO Action Against EU's Food Standard
SOURCE: CongressDaily/A.M., USA, by Geoff Earle and William New
        sent by AgBioView, USA
DATE:   Jan 28, 2003

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Thomas, Grassley Urge WTO Action Against EU's Food Standard

House Ways and Means Chairman Thomas and Senate Finance Chairman
Grassley, in separate sets of remarks Monday, called for action against
the European Union before the World Trade Organization for its position
on genetically modified U.S. food. Thomas, returning from a visit to
several southern African nations that trade with Europe, offered a harsh
assessment of European trade policies, calling a "horrendous anti-
humanitarian move" the European Union's pressure on African nations not
to accept U.S. food aid when the food has been genetically modified,
calling the policy "outrageous."

Thomas said there was not yet a "smoking gun" that proved the Europeans
had applied such pressure, but indicated that he was researching the
issue. He said Zambia might be able to provide some evidence. Grassley
also urged the Bush administration to launch a WTO challenge against
Europe's policy of blocking imports of genetically modified agricultural
products.

"I would like our interagency people ... to get off their duffs and
decide we are going to the WTO," Grassley told a gathering of Consumers
for World Trade. Grassley said he favors a WTO dispute settlement case as
a way to pry open the markets of the 15 European Union member countries.

Thomas appeared to adopt a line tracking that of Trade Representative
Zoellick, who has said he personally favors taking the Europeans to court
in the WTO to challenge restrictions of genetically modified food. "We're
thinking about dragging them through the process that they've been
dragging us through," said Thomas, referring to successful EU challenges
of a U.S. international tax regimen in the WTO. At the same time, Thomas
repeated his long-held view that Congress should have international
taxation rules that conform with the WTO's. "We ought to follow the rules
of the game," he said.

But Thomas - who last year crafted a bill to change the laws dealing with
foreign sales corporations - declined to commit himself to a timetable or
structure for the legislation. He said businesses that would be affected
by the legislation have suggested a number of amendments. But Thomas did
not commit himself to moving a bill through committee by a date this
year, saying the timing depends on what happens with President Bush's tax
package.

The WTO also recently ruled against the United States on a key trade
remedy issue, known as the Byrd amendment, which Thomas acknowledged
probably does not conform to WTO rules. But he said it is hard to change
U.S. laws when the Europeans have acted to block U.S. exports in disputes
like a case dealing with beef hormones. "Frankly, the European Union has
not created a very positive environment for me trying to get my
colleagues to conform with the WTO," he said. <cut>

Meanwhile Monday, the European Union sent its Doha Round agricultural
negotiating proposal to the WTO after making several alterations at the
insistence of France, the Associated Press reported from Brussels. The
European Union had offered to cut tariffs on agricultural goods by 36
percent, but that the text proposed by the European Commission was
altered at France's insistence to stress that the export subsidies would
be phased out gradually.

In Switzerland, WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi called the EU
offer "really good news." Last week, U.S. agricultural groups urged U.S.
negotiators to reject the EU offer for not going far enough.


                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  EU blocking progress of war on hunger
SOURCE: Austin American-Statesman, USA, Editorial
        http://www.austin360.com/statesman/editions/monday/editorial_1.html
DATE:   Jan 27, 2003

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EU blocking progress of war on hunger

The United States is in the middle of a war that receives little notice,
and one in which former European allies again are standing in the way of
progress.

It's the war on hunger, and it's being thwarted by European Union nations
that oppose genetically modified (GM) crops developed in the United
States. The EU has a four-year moratorium on the importation of GM foods,
a ban driven more by ideology and market protection than science.

What's worse, EU members are warning other nations -- some with starving
populations -- not to accept GM food sources from the United States or
risk losing foreign aid and markets for their goods. It is an outrageous
act of blackmail that forces the governments of poor nations to choose
between maintaining friendly relations with Europe and letting their
people starve.

The African nation of Zambia recently turned away 26,000 tons of American
grain because it was grown from genetically modified seeds. The Zambian
government said it was worried that the grain might be toxic and feared
cross-pollination. But U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said he
thinks some EU nations threatened to retaliate against Zambia if it
accepted the grain.

Zoellick is furious that the EU continues its moratorium without any
evidence of genetically modified crops causing illness anywhere in the
world. Zoellick is right to be angry, because it is cruel to let people
starve when food aid is available. GM foods have been produced and
consumed in America and elsewhere for years without adverse effects.

Texas A&M University professor Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Peace Prize
laureate and a world expert on food production, said European opposition
is a mix of politics, ego and market control. At the scientific level, he
said, there is little difference in the American and European points of
view about genetically modified products. But politicians continue to
drum up fears despite the facts.

"Behind the scenes there is also some ego," Borlaug explained. "The U.S.
scientists were way out front on this." Thus European concerns that
American corporations will corner the market on high-yield, high-
nutrition, pest-resistant products resulting from genetic modification.

The fear of GM crops -- Frankenfood, in the scare terminology favored by
opponents -- is greatly exaggerated and European demands for proof of
their infallibility are unrealistic. "There is nothing in the biological
world that is perfect," said Borlaug. "I see that every morning in the
mirror. So it is with plants."

Experimenting with food crops to breed resistance and increase yield is
as old as agriculture itself. Genetic modification is only the latest
development. In addition to improving strength and yield, Borlaug says
future modifications are expected to improve nutrition and health as well.

EU nations might be excused for bowing to their own interest groups'
animosity toward GM products. But it is scandalous that well-fed
Europeans are pressuring other nations to spurn food that could feed
millions of starving people.

ON THE WEB: Information on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
guidelines for GM foods can be found at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/