Date: 24 October 2000
EC QUESTIONS IF US BIOTECH FOOD REGULATIONS ADEQUATE
[Note nice bit of wishful thinking in penultimate paragraph]
WASHINGTON - The European Commission on Friday expressed concern about whether U.S. regulations are adequate to stop bioengineered grains from getting into exports to nations concerned about gene-spliced foods.
John Richardson, deputy chief of the EC delegation in Washington, said
there were fresh questions about American regulations following the recent
U.S. recall of taco shells and flour containing a variety of biotech corn
which had not been approved for human consumption.
The EC is concerned whether any U.S. foods exported to Europe contain the same type of yellow corn, known to farmers by its brandname StarLink.
Britain, France, Italy and more than two dozen other nations around the world prohibit the sale of foods containing biotech ingredients unless they are clearly labelled for consumers. American green groups have pushed for similar regulations in the United States, saying not enough is known yet about the long-term effects of gene-spliced foods.
U.S. agribusiness and industry groups oppose tighter regulations, contending that a longstanding U.S. government policy recognises bioengineered foods as safe and no different from conventional ones.
StarLink, made by Aventis SA , was approved by U.S. regulators for animal feed only and not for human consumption because of government scientists’ unresolved questions about whether it might be an allergen for some people.
The EC was to hold talks later on Friday with U.S. government officials
about the StarLink contamination, Richardson told a briefing on a variety
of trade issues.
"Part of the basis on which U.S. genetically-modified products are exported to Europe...is the understanding the United States has the ability to distinguish between non-approved products and approved products," he said.
"What this whole discussion throws up is whether, in fact, the U.S.
has that ability (and) whether the U.S. system is working," he added.
Last week, a senior Clinton administration official said the United States was making headway against European resistance to genetically modified crops.
Alan Larson, a State Department undersecretary for business and agriculture, told an Iowa food conference that he believed there was a growing unease in Europe with green groups that have lobbied for strict biotech regulations.
The United States is the world’s biggest producer of gene-altered soybeans, corn, squash and other crops. American exports of grain to Europe have dropped because of European consumers’ resistance to biotech foods.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
ngin bulletin archive