GENTECH archive 8.96-97


USDA Pressures EU Officials on GMO Foods

    WASHINGTON, March 14 (Reuter) - An U.S. interagency team will meet with
European Union scientists and regulators next month to talk about
biotechnology, a U.S. Agriculture Department official said Friday. 

    "This is an opportunity for teams on both sides to sit down to review
current issues," said Timothy Galvin, Associate Administrator for USDA's
Foreign Agricultural Service. 

    "Hopefully, the meetings will allow us to obtain direct answers in some
of the issues that seem to have pushed EU regulatory policy out of focus," he
said in a speech to a food policy conference. 

    On the list, Galvin said the U.S. wants to know if the EU commission will
enforce discipline among those member states that have gone their own way on
genetically-altered products, such as France which has banned its farmers
from growing genetically-modified corn despite commission approval. 

    Galvin said the U.S. team would also seek to pin down what the EU
regulatory authority will be for biotech products. He said the commission
indicated in January that its new novel foods directive or food labelling
policy might supercede the previous approval process. 

    The USDA official also said the U.S. was keen to find out the final shape
EU labelling policy, due in April, would take. 

    "We're anxious to see what the detail will be but in general in doesn't
look that bad, it doesn't look that different from what the U.S. has on
labelling," he said. 

    He said the EU was proposing to label genetically modified products if
they were "fundamentally different" from the vegetable product or raised
health concerns like allergies. 

    Galvin said U.S. trade policy in the biotech arena tended to be shaped by
"efforts to sort things out with the EU" 

because it was a major customer for U.S. agricultural goods and was quite
advanced in putting in place a regulatory system for approving biotech

    The European Union bought $9 billion worth of U.S. food and feed products
last year. 

    Glavin said the U.S., EU meetings would likely be April 17-18 at USDA. 

15:19 03-14-97