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U.S. agribusiness pressures EU to go easy on labeling/traceability legislation

(June 5, 2001 Ė CropChoice opinion) Ė The United States dislikes the labeling and traceability requirements for transgenic foods that the European Commission, executive body of the European Union, is considering for adoption in late June.

Itís not surprising that the U.S. government has taken this position, given industry pressure to dissuade the EU from protecting consumer interests. Of course many Europeans wonít buy food products containing these ingredients. Thatís what concerns U.S. farm organizations and the biotechnology industry.

In mid-May, the American Farm Bureau, Grocery Manufacturers of America and 17 other organizations sent a letter to USDA Secretary Ann Veneman in which they warned that the EU proposal could wreck the "$4 billion U.S. agricultural export market." (European officials contend the market is actually half that size because of rejection of transgenic foods and the drop in commodity prices.)

So, instead of simply complying with what is consumersí right to know, U.S. agribusiness interests prefer to view this as unfair trade practices ripe for a challenge at the World Trade Organization.

"We're advising them we think there are elements in these draft regulations that clearly have the potential to violate the EU's WTO (World Trade Organization) commitments," Audrae Erickson, a trade expert for the Farm Bureau, told Reuters. "We're putting them on notice that we're concerned."

See related CropChoice story at:

Source: Reuters