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3-Food: EU says Bush accusations on biotech policy untrue

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TITLE:  EU Says Bush Accusations on Biotech Policy Untrue
SOURCE: Reuters, by Robin Pomeroy
DATE:   June 25, 2003

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EU Says Bush Accusations on Biotech Policy Untrue

BRUSSELS - Europe shot back at Washington yesterday in their war over
genetically modified food, accusing President Bush of falsehoods about EU
restrictions on the eve of a summit meant to ease transatlantic tensions.

The European Commission rejected Bush's accusation on Monday that the
European Union's unofficial ban on GM food aggravated the risk of famine
in Africa, and said the EU did far more than the United States to feed
the world's poor.

"The suggestions made by the United States are simply not true,"
Commission spokesman Gerassimos Thomas told a daily news briefing. "It is
false that we are anti-biotechnology or anti-developing countries."

Bush, who has launched a trade suit against the EU over its GM policy, is
due to discuss the issue with EU leaders who visit Washington on
Wednesday at a summit aimed at reviving transatlantic relations damaged
by the Iraq war.

The United States, Argentina and Canada, which grow 95 percent of the
world's gene-altered crops, last month asked the World Trade Organization
to overturn the EU restrictions, which have hampered GM exports to the EU
for the last five years.

U.S. maize farmers say they are losing about $300 million a year in sales
to the EU and have become increasingly concerned about new EU rules that
would require GM crops to be segregated from conventional strains when
imported to Europe.

The European Parliament will vote on the rules next week, a move which
could lead the way for the ban to be lifted.


Bush told a biotechnology conference on Monday that the EU should lift
its restrictions "for the sake of a continent threatened by famine."

Last year, some African countries rejected U.S. food aid as it contained
GM grain, which they feared could be used as seed, threatening future
exports to the EU.

The EU has rejected U.S. calls to reassure developing countries that they
should accept GM organisms, which are routinely eaten by Americans.

"We never try to impose our views on African or other less developed
countries," EU spokesman Thomas said. "We have a much better record that
the United States (on aid). We provide seven times more aid than the
United States."

Thomas also took a swipe at U.S. legislation granting $15 billion to
fight AIDS in Africa which mentioned some countries' rejection of GM
food, something anti-GM campaigners see as a link between accepting
biotech food and receiving aid.

"We do not tie our aid to our policy. In a way, it is a bit worrying to
see that the United States in the pharmaceutical aid tries to impose GMO
acceptance as a condition for pharmaceutical aid," Thomas said.

Environmentalist group Friends of the Earth said Bush's link of GM
organisms (GMOs) to world hunger was "absolutely immoral."

The group opposes GM crops as it believes they could pose hidden health
risks or lead to super-weeds if their genes mix with plants in the

"If the U.S. says it is going to solve the world food problem through
GMOs it is a lie, " said FoE campaigner Geert Ritsema. "The main reason
that the United States wants this is that they want to break open the
(developing countries) market to GMOs."



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