US Will Try To Force Europe
To Take GM Foods
By Edward Alden in Washington

The top US trade official said on Thursday he was ready to launch a World Trade Organisation challenge against the European Union over its refusal to lift a de facto moratorium on the approval of new genetically-modified crops.
Robert Zoellick, the US trade representative, said: "I personally am of the view that we now need to bring a case." He called the moratorium "a total violation of the WTO". A challenge to European restrictions on genetically-modified products would be among the most contentious issues yet to confront the WTO's dispute settlement process.
Mr Zoellick's comments come after years of indecision, during which two US administrations had weighed carefully whether a WTO case would help to open global markets for bio-engineered foods or might instead trigger a broader consumer backlash that would hurt US farmers.
The US now looks likely to end that indecision, primarily because of fears that Europe's opposition to bio-engineered foods is spreading to Africa and Asia. Several African countries have rejected US food aid shipments containing genetically modified crops, and Mr Zoellick charged that some European countries had pressed Africa to reject the US aid.
He called it "extremely disturbing" that "the European anti-scientific policies are spreading to other corners of the world". He said genetically modified crops were critical to help farmers in poor countries grow crops under difficult conditions.
An inter-agency group of senior US officials agreed last month that the US should bring a WTO case unless Europe took concrete steps to end the moratorium. A decision by the full US cabinet is likely this month.
The EU has for more than four years maintained an effective moratorium on approving new genetically modified crops, responding to consumer and interest group pressures. The European Commission favours ending the moratorium but failed to persuade member states late last year.
The EU is also developing a new system for tracing and labelling genetically modified foods, a scheme that the US argues would permanently block the European market for many US foods
The US won a similar case in 1997, in which the WTO ordered Europe to lift a ban on imports of hormone- treated beef. The EU has so far failed to implement the ruling. But Mr Zoellick said that, even though the victory in the beef case did not open the European market for US exports, it stopped similar bans from spreading to other countries.
A WTO case is likely to upset US efforts to win European co-operation in other areas, however. Mr Zoellick acknowledged yesterday that the Doha Round of world trade negotiations is stalled while the EU determines how much it is prepared to liberalise its agricultural sector.
Pascal Lamy, the EU trade commissioner said, EU would fight the US if it brought a WTO case over genetically modified crops.
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