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US Threatens EU Once Again on
Frankenfoods Issue

US warns EU on modified crops
By Michael Mann in Brussels
Financial Times; Jun 21, 2002

The US yesterday issued its clearest warning yet that it may take legal
action in the World Trade Organisation against the European
Union for the EU's refusal to approve new genetically modified crops.
Allen Johnson, Washington's chief negotiator on agricultural affairs, said
that the US is losing patience with the EU over the latter's
four-year moratorium on approving new GM crops, which the US says
is costing it hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lost exports.

"There is a growing frustration and pressure in the US," Mr Johnson
told reporters during talks with European Commission officials.
"We are considering all our options, including [WTO] dispute settlement
in trying to resolve this issue."

The possibility of further WTO litigation comes at a difficult time for
transatlantic trade relations, as the EU considers whether to
retaliate against US steel tariffs. The dispute over GM foods highlights
very different attitudes on both sides to food safety and shows
how consumers in Europe lack the Americans' trust in the regulatory
process.

GM crops are already in widespread use in the US but have failed
to take hold in Europe because of considerable consumer
concerns about potential health and environmental risks.

A number of GM crops have been given the all-clear by EU scientists
but are stuck in the approvals process because nervous EU
governments are unwilling to authorise them in the current political
climate.

The US says it is barred from exporting bulk commodities and food
containing unauthorised varieties because of what it regards as
an illegal EU ban. US anger has risen since Brussels unveiled plans
for tracing and labelling GM foods, which the US says will be
unworkable and expensive.

"The problem is not getting any better," said Mr Johnson. "It's hard
to be optimistic. It makes us look more aggressively at what our
options are in terms of processes and timelines for initiating a [WTO]
case."

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