EU Adopts New Rules On GM Food Labeling

By Agence France-Presse European agriculture ministers on July 22 adopted new rules on the labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods, paving the way for the EU to lift a four-year-old ban on GM products that drew sharp criticism from the United States. The official adoption follows a July 2 vote by the European Parliament in Strasbourg to require food and animal feed to be labeled if they contain at least 0.9% of GM ingredients. There had been hope the parliament decision would ease the transatlantic row over GM foods, but the United States has vowed to pursue its complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO), arguing the new rules make the issue even more complicated. The U.S. government and agriculture companies have been pushing hard to allow GM products into Europe in order to boost the U.S. biotechnology food industry. The new rules will go into effect three weeks after their publication in the official EU gazette. Food producers and distributors then have six months to apply the new procedures. The United States is leading a group of 12 countries, including Argentina, seeking to overturn the EU obstacles to genetically modified foods. The biotechnology row is one of many issues clouding talks ahead of a meeting of the world's trade ministers in Cancun, Mexico in September to take stock of stalled WTO negotiations to free up trade. Agricultural subsidies are expected to be one of the main obstacles confronting policymakers. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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