Bush Baits Brussels Over GM crops
Summary of article
By Jason Nissé
The Independent (UK)
25 August 2002
The US government is to launch a trade war over GM crops in an attempt to force the European Union to back down in its tough stance against
US trade representative, Robert Zoellick, put in a complaint to the World Trade Organization claiming that the EU moratorium on GM imports and crop-testing is a restraint of trade. Monsanto supported his action because it is at the centre of the developing of GM crops.
The EU stopped the development and testing of GM crops in Europe.
Since 1998, France, Italy, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Luxembourg, and Belgium joined together to block all new product authorizations for GM oil-seed rape, maize, sugar beet, and the like being imported from the US. Only US soya has been accepted because it was approved prior to 1998.
The European Commission has already admitted that this "de facto moratorium" on the import of GM products from the US, which has been in place since 1998, may be illegal. It is planning to replace it with an updated, and likely to be tougher, general directive on GM products. This will be discussed at an EU Council of Environment Ministers.
Margaret Beckett, who is the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is sympathetic so will stand up against the hard line taken in Europe.
Widespread GM crop tests is ongoing in the UK. This testing programme ran into controversy earlier this month when it emerged that the wrong seeds were planted at14 sites being run by Aventis Crops Sciences, a subsidiary of the German chemical group, Bayer.
The Bush administration is far less sympathetic to the GM industry than the Clinton government was, but the US intervention, has not been entirely welcomed by the GM industry.
Paul Rylott, head of bioscience at Aventis Crop Sciences, said that "it may help to lance the boil in the short term" but that the EU was getting to the point where it would consider softening its stance on GM. "We'd prefer the debate to go forward with a consensus rather than being steam-rollered," he added.