May 1, 2003, just-food.com: A proposal
to tighten restrictions on trade of genetically modified
organisms has successfully cleared European Parliament
committee and is set to face the full parliament in
June. This is the latest step in the ongoing European
debate on GMOs, which has strained relations between
the US and the EU.
The proposal which states that no GMOs can be exported
from Europe without the formal consent of the importing
country, has some biotech advocates worried that further
regulations will hamper biotech innovation and research
"Research is already down and the new requirements
could only make things worse," Simon Barber, director
of the Plant Biotechnology Unit at Europabio, the European
association of biotech industries, was quoted by Dow
Jones News as saying.
Supporters of the measure say they want to make sure
that European countries respect importing countries’
bans on GMOs.
"The attempt by the US to exploit temporary food
shortages in Africa to force developing countries to
accept GM foods demonstrates how urgently we need such
regulation," said Swedish green Parliament member
Jonas Sjoestedt. "In the guise of humanitarian
aid, the US was, in reality, simply trying to dump surplus
GM food that nobody wants to buy."
US officials were angered when Zambia refused US food
aid, out of what was believed to be fear of European
retaliation for accepting GM corn. The US has threatened
to file a suit with the WTO against the EU, but postponed
the plans in order not to further damage relations with
the EU in light of the war in Iraq.