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Grassley urges Bush administration to take Europeans to WTO over biotech foods moratorium

(Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- Reuters: Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican and the incoming chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, urged the Bush administration Monday to launch legal action against the European Union for thwarting sales of U.S. genetically modified crops, and that he has told the office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick that "we need to move with a suit. There's wide support for drawing a line in the sand."

U.S. farmers complain they have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales because of the E.U.'s four-year-old moratorium on approvals of genetically modified goods, ranging from corn and soybeans to pharmaceuticals.

The Bush administration appears to be leaning toward filing such a trade case after initially hoping it could avoid that action by persuading the E.U. to drop its moratorium. President Bush's Cabinet is expected to meet soon to discuss possible U.S. legal action.

But David Hegwood, special adviser at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, left open the possibility of a case not being filed.

''If we can get the moratorium lifted without taking a case, then it saves us a whole lot of time and trouble. But that's our ultimate objective, to get the moratorium lifted.''