US Agribusiness Fights Mexico Mandatory Labels for GE Foods


(Exeprted From Rural UPdates! March 29, 2001)

The Mexican Senate has unanimously approved a bill calling for
mandatory labeling of biotech foods and a cadre of US trade
groups are trying to block final passage in the Mexican House of
Deputies. On February 4th, the American Farm Bureau Federation
and approximately 20 other groups sent a letter to US officials
urging them to intervene "at the most senior levels" to "prevent this
legislation from becoming Mexican law." The letter urged them to
use President Bush's "upcoming visit to Mexico" and was sent to
Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Agriculture Ann
Veneman, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoelick.

Moreover, the letter conveyed wording that could be interpreted as
a threat to Mexico regarding their favorable trade status. "The
ramifications (of mandatory labeling) to US farmers, grain handlers,
food companies and biotechnology providers" said the letter,
"would be enormous and threaten our favorable relations with
Mexico as an ally and NAFTA trading partner." The letter also
stated that labeling "would not only confuse and mislead Mexican
consumers about the safety inherent in biotech foods but also create
a negative precedent for NAFTA." With the upcoming Free Trade
for the America's next month in Quebec, this development is sure
to reverberate widely throughout the global trade and
biotechnology communities. The Mexican House of Deputies is
expected to vote on this bill soon. Karil L. Kochendorfer of the
Grocery Manufacturers Association of America (202) 295 3927
was the contact person mentioned on the letter. Rural Updates! has
obtained a copy and will be posting developments in future editions.
To receive UPdates! email with the word
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Bureau's vast insurance and agribusiness investments, go to:

Scotty Johnson
National Rural Community Campaign
Defenders of Wildlife
(520) 623 9653 Ext. 3
Fax: (520) 623 0447

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