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6-Regulation: APEC going to ask scientists about GE food safety andlabelling

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                                  PART I
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TITLE:  APEC says GMO debate beyond it, asks scientists
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   June 4, 2003

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APEC says GMO debate beyond it, asks scientists

KHON KAEN, Thailand - APEC trade ministers will ask scientists to decide
whether genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe after Japan irked
the United States by asking for such products to be labelled, Thailand
said. Thai Commerce Minister Adisai told a news conference that Japan's
trade representative at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade
forum, Sanae Takaichi, had said many Asian consumers were worried GMOs
were dangerous to their health. "Japan didn't reject GMOs completely but
the minister said some consumers are unsure about their safety," Adisai
said. "She wanted labelling but the United States wasn't happy with that.
This is something which is beyond the capacity of trade ministers, so we
said let's ask the scientists." The United States says its companies are
using biotechnology to produce food that can help feed millions in
developing countries, and has said it will ask a World Trade Organisation
(WTO) panel to rule that a de facto European ban on GMOs is illegal.
Europe has a moratorium on approvals for "novel food" products.

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TITLE:  2ND LD: APEC trade chiefs mull SARS, food
SOURCE: Kyodo, Japan, by Takehiko Kajita
DATE:   June 2, 2003

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2ND LD: APEC trade chiefs mull SARS, food

Trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum
began annual talks Monday, with the first day's debate mainly on such
topics as the fight against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and
the safety of genetically modified (GM) food.

They also exchanged opinions on counter-terrorism, trade and investment
facilitation, and the relationship between APEC's goals of freeing up
trade and investment by 2020 and the proliferation of free trade
agreements in the APEC region in recent years.

On the war against SARS, the ministers hailed an action plan on SARS
devised by senior officials last week and confirmed their will to work
together to contain the pneumonia-like disease, officials said.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who opened the two-day APEC trade
ministerial meeting, told reporters the SARS-hit economies should return
to normal economic activity in three months' time.

"I think the countries affected by SARS will be able to contain the
epidemic by the end of this month," he said. "I think the public fear of
SARS probably will disappear 16 days after that and by the end of August,
economic activity affected by SARS will be back to normal."

SARS has claimed the lives of more than 760 people and infected more than
8,300 globally since last November, when it was first detected in the
southern Chinese province of Guangdong.

On Tuesday, the APEC trade ministers are expected to issue a separate
statement on SARS, in addition to the chairman's summary on other topics.

As for GM food, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick insisted such
food is risk-free, while Japan spoke of the need for it to be labeled to
keep consumers informed since its safety has not been proven yet,
officials said.

"It was quite a controversial issue of the day," Thai Commerce Minister
Adisai Bodharamik, who chairs the ministerial gathering, told reporters,
adding that APEC senior officials will be tasked to pursue the safety
issue with scientists.

APEC, set up in 1989, groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China,
Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand,
Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan,
Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

With a combined population of more than 2.5 billion, the APEC region
generates a gross domestic product of $19 trillion, or 47% of
international commerce.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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