GENET archive


6-Regulation: Bush sees EU GMO ban still in place

genet-news mailing list

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

TITLE:  Bush Administration Says New EU Biotech Laws Are Onerous,
        Sees Ban As Still in Place
SOURCE: The Associated Press
DATE:   Jul 2, 2003

------------------ archive: ------------------

Bush Administration Says New EU Biotech Laws Are Onerous, Sees Ban As
Still in Place

WASHINGTON July 2 -- The Bush administration believes that biotech food
label requirements approved Wednesday by the European Parliament are
onerous, and has not changed its view that an illegal ban is still in place.

The new requirements end a five-year freeze on the introduction of new
genetically engineered foods but they may not meet U.S. feasibility
standards, said Richard Mills, a spokesman for the U.S. Trade
Representative's office.

"We are concerned that the proposed traceability and labeling does not
meet this standard," Mills said in a statement after the 626-member
assembly in Brussels, Belgium approved the new requirements.

Mills also worried that the labels would only succeed in turning
customers away on a continent where many consumers already are wary of
what critics deride as "Frankenfood."

The United States considers the earlier ban on genetically altered food
to be illegal, and has joined Australia and Canada in filing a legal
challenge at the World Trade Organization. Mills made it clear that the
challenge was still active.

"Today's action does not lift the illegal moratorium on biotech
products," he said.

The regulations require producers to trace genetically modified organisms
at all stages of production and oblige supermarkets to label products
containing more than 0.9 percent biotech material to say: "This product
is produced from GMOs."

U.S. food and biotech companies oppose Europe's efforts to require
labeling of genetically engineered food, arguing that compliance would be
cumbersome and expensive.

"It seems more likely that the new regulations will drive food
manufacturers to reformulate to shun biotech-derived ingredients
altogether as their only effective means of avoiding the impractical
burdens the new regulations would impose," said Val Giddings, vice
president of the U.S. Biotechnology Industry Organization.

Under the new laws, hundreds of American-made foods would have to be
labeled as having GMOs because many of them contain starches or syrups
derived from genetically engineered corn.

Bob Stallman, president of the farm group, American Farm Bureau
Federation, said biotech food is safe, regardless of how much of it is in
a product. "The threshold appears to be rather arbitrary and pointless,
unless one's point is to continue to restrict imports and protect
domestic producers," he said.

Mills said that the parliament's action may lead other countries to block
trade by imposing detailed information requirements "and prompt a host of
new non-tarrif barriers just as we are trying to stimulate global trade."

Mills repeated past U.S. assertions the EU moratorium had negative
consequences, among them a reluctance by famine-stricken African
countries to receive U.S. aid "because of ill-informed health and
environmental concerns" over genetically modified products.

He said European consumers, like American consumers, should have a safe
and effective labeling system that provides them with access to the world
food supply and lets them make their own decisions.

Backed by Canada and Australia, the United States says the EU's cautious
approach is based on unfounded health fears. The three have filed a
complaint with the World Trade Organization to force Europe to lift the

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

TITLE:  U.S. sour on EU's rules for bio-foods
SOURCE: The Washington Times, USA, by Jeffrey Sparshott
DATE:   Jul 3, 2003

------------------ archive: ------------------

U.S. sour on EU's rules for bio-foods

European lawmakers yesterday approved strict rules to identify and track
genetically modified foods, a move quickly criticized by the U.S. farm
industry and the Bush administration as a new barrier to American products.

The United States and European Union's running battle over biotechnology
has escalated this year, adding one more dispute to strained trans-
Atlantic trade relations.

The 15-nation European Union, citing consumer-health and environmental-
safety concerns, has effectively barred new genetically modified crops
from its market since 1998.

Bush administration officials say the EU policy is unscientific and has a
chilling effect in poor nations that could benefit from biotechnology.

The administration in May filed a case with the World Trade Organization
to force a rewrite of EU rules.

EU officials hoped the laws approved yesterday would encourage the United
States to drop the case, but American officials were not appeased.

"Today's action does not lift the EU's illegal moratorium on biotech
products," said Richard Mills, spokesman for the U.S. Trade
Representative's office.

American farming officials said the new rules would create a bigger
barrier to trade than the informal EU policy that now blocks the
production or sale of many biotech crops inside the 15-nation bloc.

"We think their remedy for the problem is just as bad if not worse than
the problem itself," said Ron Gaskill, international trade policy
specialist with the American Farm Bureau, the country's largest farm

Legislation approved yesterday by Europe's parliament would allow the
approval of new products, but also implements a system to trace and label
biotech crops, food products and animal feed derived from biotech crops.

"We will now have the most rigorous premarketing assessment of
[genetically modified] food and feed in the world," said David Byrne, the
EU health and consumer-protection commissioner.

The European Union's 15 members must still adopt the rules passed by
parliament, but it is expected that it will be approved this year, said
Charlotte Hebebrand, special adviser in the agriculture and food-safety
section of the EU delegation in Washington.

Environmental and consumer groups in the European Union praised the
legislation, but U.S. farm groups said they would not work.

"The rules themselves on labeling and traceability are both commercially
impossible and not scientifically justified," Mr. Gaskill said.

The United States is the world leader in agricultural biotechnology.

Soybeans, corn and cotton are the most popular crops -- 81 percent of all
soybeans, 40 percent of corn and 73 percent of cotton crops have been
genetically modified, according to U.S. Agriculture Department figures
for this year.

St. Louis-based Monsanto is one of the largest producers of the crops,
which are often genetically altered to withstand pests.

Because of the U.S. distribution system, which generally does not
segregate biotech from conventional crops, a wide array of U.S.-made
products sold in the European Union would be affected by the rules.

While some crops sales are limited now -- corn farmers estimate they lose
$300 million annually in lost sales -- new rules mean that biotech
ingredients would have to be linked back to their origin and food
products would have to be labeled.

Mr. Gaskill said soybean oil, cottonseed oil, animal feed, sweeteners and
many processed foods like tortilla chips or taco shells would fall under
the EU labeling requirements.

Food that contains 0.9 percent genetically modified ingredients would
read "This product contains genetically modified organisms" or that it is
"produced from genetically modified [name of organism]."

"There is a pretty significant impact because of the wide use of those
[biotech] products in the U.S. for many years," Mr. Gaskill said.

Mr. Mills said that the biotechnology regulations should be based on
scientific evidence, should not prejudice consumers and should be
feasible for producers.

"We are concerned that the proposed EU traceability and labeling
regulation does not meet this standard," he said.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig

phone:  +49-531-5168746
fax:    +49-531-5168747
mobile: +49-162-1054755
email:  genetnl(at)