EU Moves Closer To Decision On Biotech Foods

By Agence France-Presse The European Union may soon lift a de-facto ban on bio-engineered foods after new rules on the technology went into force during the weekend, an official said Oct. 21. "The date isn't fixed yet but the [European] Commission could make its proposals on the issue in November or December at the latest," said a spokeswoman for the EU's executive arm. Member states would then be required to vote by a qualified majority on whether to agree to the Commission's proposals. The EU in July agreed to two new directives on genetically modified (GM) organisms, which it said would open the way to lifting the 5-year-old moratorium on the import and cultivation of bio-engineered food. One directive required that foods and animal feed be labeled if they contain at least 0.9% of GM ingredients; the other required that GM foods' origin be traceable. The two directives passed into EU law on Saturday. The United States, Canada and Argentina are suing the 15-nation bloc at the World Trade Organization over its GM moratorium. And Monsanto Co., the U.S. pioneer of GM crops, said last week it was pulling out of the European seed cereal business, although it denied the move was related to the EU moratorium on commercial growing of biotech crops. Nevertheless public opinion in Europe remains largely hostile to GM foods. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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