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 in Europe.
"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.