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World Trade Organization delays ruling on EU-US biotech dispute

(Thursday, Aug. 26, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- Associated Press: BRUSSELS --The U.S. will have to wait until next year to see its fight with the European Union over biotech foods resolved, as the World Trade Organization agreed to an E.U. request to bring scientists into the debate, officials said Thursday.

A WTO panel in Geneva decided Aug. 20 to allow expert testimony before deciding on the complaint filed last year by the U.S., Canada and Argentina over the E.U.'s moratorium on approving genetically modified foods for sale in Europe.

That means the panel's report, initially expected before the end of this year, now will be delayed until late March, according to WTO documents.

The U.S. had argued scientific advice wasn't needed because the case revolved around legal issues, while the E.U. has sought to move the debate from trade rules to health and environmental protection. A U.S. official said Washington accepted the panel's decision and would be "participating in the process" of framing questions to be debated.

There was no immediate E.U. comment.