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Talks Collapse on U.S. Efforts to Open Europe to Biotech Food

<i>Genetically modified food - which can grow more quickly
than traditional crops and can be resistant to insects -
has caused scant controversy in the United States, where
people eat it every day. Almost 40 percent of all corn
planted in this country in genetically modified.The Bush administration and agricultural businesses view
the policy as simple protectionism because American
companies, which dominate the biotechnology industry,would
benefit most from lifting the ban. Without it, American
companies would export about $300 billion more in corn each
year than they do now, according to the American Farm
Bureau Federation</i>
<p>From the NY Times, June 19: "Talks between the United States and
the European Union over opening up Europe to genetically
modified foods broke down in Geneva today, the Bush
administration announced, heightening trans-Atlantic
tensions...Europe's resistance to modified crops received a political
lift last week when a global treaty restricting them was
approved"
American officials said they would soon request that the
World Trade Organization convene a panel to hear their
case, in an effort to end a ban that farm groups say is
depriving agricultural businesses of hundreds of billions
of dollars a year.

The Bush administration called Europe's policy illegal,
saying that scientific research had shown genetically
altered crops to be safe. The European Union "denies
choices to European consumers," Richard Mills, a spokesman
for the United States trade representative, Robert
Zoellick, said in a statement today.

European officials said the long-term effects of altered
food remained uncertain. They said they were disappointed
by the administration's publicizing of the dispute.

The food dispute is one of a handful of trade fights
between the United States and Europe and comes as tensions
linger over the war in Iraq, which many European countries
opposed. Trade officials also continue to haggle over steel
tariffs imposed by the Bush administration last year, farm
subsidies on both sides of the Atlantic, and an American
law that reduces taxes for companies with overseas
operations, among other issues.

"There have never been more of these litigations than there
are right now," Robert E. Lighthizer, a trade lawyer at
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Washington, said of
the disputes. He said the relationship was "extremely
contentious."

American and European officials met in Geneva today for a
round of negotiations, known as a consultation, after the
United States filed suit at the W.T.O. over the issue last
month. Today's announcement means that the trade
organization will soon begin selecting a panel of judges to
hear the case, although a decision is likely to take
months.

Genetically modified food - which can grow more quickly
than traditional crops and can be resistant to insects -
has caused scant controversy in the United States, where
people eat it every day. Almost 40 percent of all corn
planted in this country in genetically modified.

In Europe, however, the environmental movement is more
powerful, and a series of food problems, including mad cow
disease, have made people far more skeptical of assurances
of safety from governments and businesses. Some food
packages there bear the label "GM free," and the initials
are well enough known to be used regularly in headlines in
British newspapers.

The European Commission has permitted the use of some
genetically modified foods, like soybeans, in the last
decade, but has effectively placed a moratorium on most new
products.

The Bush administration and agricultural businesses view
the policy as simple protectionism because American
companies, which dominate the biotechnology industry,would
benefit most from lifting the ban. Without it, American
companies would export about $300 billion more in corn each
year than they do now, according to the American Farm
Bureau Federation.

Scientific research has generally shown that genetically
modified foods do not cause health problems.

"Countries shouldn't be able to erect barriers for
nonscientific reasons," Don Lipton, a spokesman for the
farm federation, said. "That's a very important principle
in international trade."

In a speech last month, President Bush escalated the
dispute by saying that Europe's policy was undermining
efforts to fight hunger in Africa. African nations, fearing
their products would be shunned by Europe, are avoiding
developing genetically modified food that might help feed
the continent, he said. "European governments should join,
not hinder, the great cause of ending hunger in Africa," he
said in the speech.

European diplomats reacted angrily to Mr. Bush's comments,
saying that their health concerns were serious and noting
that European nations spend a greater part of their budget
on foreign aid than the United States.

European officials have also said that they are surprised
that the United States has highlighted the dispute
recently. This summer, the European Parliament is scheduled
to consider a measure that would establish strict labeling
rules for genetically modified products, which could allow
more of them to be sold.

Europe's resistance to modified crops received a political
lift last week when a global treaty restricting them was
approved. Although it is not clear what effect the treaty,
known as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, will have on
the trade dispute, it is likely to make it easier for
countries to restrict importing the crops, trade experts
say.

The United States, worried about the treaty's impact on
American exporters, agreed only reluctantly to support it
when it was negotiated in 2000.

Announcing that the talks between Europe and the United
States had broken down today, Mr. Mills, the trade
representative's spokesman, said in his statement that he
was "disappointed but not surprised."

He added, "We'll be moving forward with requesting a panel"
to decide the case.

Willy Helin, a European Commission spokesman, said that
European officials had explained their policy fully to the
United States delegation today, but that they had expected
the dispute to reach the next level.

"This is a first formal step," he said.

Argentine officials, who have joined the United States in filing the
W.T.O. case, also attended today's talks, Mr. Helin said.

But other nations that have previously criticized Europe's
position, including Egypt, did not, he said.

 http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/20/international/europe/20TRAD.html

homepage: homepage: http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2003/06/266693.shtml

Yeah for the EU! 20.Jun.2003 06:49

.

Looks like the EU is holding strong in honoring the wishes of their citizens to keep GE foods out of EU countries. Strengthened in their position by the passage of the Carthage Protocol on Biosafety, an International Law, the EU is refusing to budge on their ban of bio-engineered foods, despite the whining of some gov't officials about how perfectly safe these foods are.... how the ban is hurting the U.S. efforts to fight hunger in Africa, among other pathetic claims....

some comments. 20.Jun.2003 07:27

this thing here

>Genetically modified food - which can grow more quickly
than traditional crops and can be resistant to insects -
has caused scant controversy in the United States, where
people eat it every day. Almost 40 percent of all corn
planted in this country in genetically modified.<

the bush admin. loves to say that consumers in europe should be able to choose. but what about in america? if the gm crops are not labelled separately from the non-gm crops, there is NO ability to choose. and IF there were labels, WOULD 40% of corn grown in the u.s. be gm? that's a question monsanto, novartis, and cargill never, ever want to be in a position to have to answer. trade officials in the bush admin. and corporate argribusinesses could care less whether humans have an ability to choose between their products and someone else's. in fact, i think it's fair to say that in america at least, they DON'T want consumers to be able to choose.

secondly, i think this line that "because gm crops are safe, then there's no reason not to eat them", is a totally specious and bullshit argument. toyota's are safe. so should you have to buy a toyota if you'd rather buy a buick? of course not. it's not so much about the safety as it is about people want to be able to choose what food they ingest. it's called control over your freaking life.

i think a particularly ugly and disgusting example of the mindset of american trade officials was their outrage over starving africans refusing to eat american gm grain. i hope i wasn't the only one who was angry about this.

so here are starving people in africa, who just want some food aid. but what do trade representatives in washington, in their infinite wisdom, do? KNOWING that gm food is touchy subject in many parts of the world? they decide the only aid they're gonna send to those damn africans is gonna be gm grain.

the starving africans notice this and say what the fuck? we didn't ask for this. we don't want to eat this. please just help us. but what do trade representatives in washington do? do they actually listen to the starving africans? do they realize that maybe NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO PUSH GM PRODUCTS BECAUSE NOW IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO JUST HELP STARVING PEOPLE BY GIVING THEM THE AID THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE GETTING? do they actually follow the american business mantra that "consumers always come first"?

no. they get pissed off and they DON'T send the aid the africans thought they were getting. essentially, their logic is this: "you'll eat our dog shit if that's the aid we give you. besides, you're so hungry, so you should want to eat our dog shit, right? you may be hungry, but we're gonna dictate what you eat." this is the disgusting mindset, and the type of men and women who are behind it.

thirdly, why is it wrong for the europeans to do this to gm food when america can the same thing to imported, foreign steel? again, either both europe AND america are totally wrong, OR, both europe AND america are totally justified, and countries being protective of their markets is just a natural part of doing business.

>The Bush administration and agricultural businesses view
the policy as simple protectionism because American
companies, which dominate the biotechnology industry,would
benefit most from lifting the ban. Without it, American
companies would export about $300 billion more in corn each
year than they do now, according to the American Farm
Bureau Federation.<

this is what massive agribusiness putting all their eggs in the gm basket looks like. is the bush admin. putting the same effort into doing this for non-gm american crops? of course not. the big, poweful agribusinesses have totally become single-minded, one-hitch wagons.

furthermore, ONLY large argribusinesses could BE the ones to come up with gm crops. they are the only ones with the resources to do the r&d. and furthermore, ONLY corporate agribusiness could BE the ones to try and dominate and lockdown the worldwide agriculture market. again, they are the only ones with the size and the wealth to even try to do something like that. the point is, gm crops are the perfect product of corporate agribusiness. the two go together, and it's no accident. only large corporation could create the product, and only large corporations could have the leverage to push it. so this isn't about poor american farmers. this about powerful, market dominating corporations, and it has been since day one. they run the show. theri interests are behind it all. the farmers, the africans, and everybody else are in the back seat.

some comments - TAKE 2. 20.Jun.2003 07:56

this thing here

(what's with the missing paragraphs, and having to post this 3 times to get it right?)

>Genetically modified food - which can grow more quickly than traditional crops and can be resistant to insects - has caused scant controversy in the United States, where people eat it every day. Almost 40 percent of all corn planted in this country in genetically modified.<

the bush admin. loves to say that consumers in europe should be able to choose. but what about in america? if the gm crops are not labelled separately from the non-gm crops, there is NO ability to choose. and IF there were labels, WOULD 40% of corn grown in the u.s. be gm? that's a question monsanto, novartis, and cargill never, ever want to be in a position to have to answer. trade officials in the bush admin. and corporate argribusinesses could care less whether humans have an ability to choose between their products and someone else's. in fact, i think it's fair to say that in america at least, they DON'T want consumers to be able to choose.

secondly, i think this line that "because gm crops are safe, then there's no reason not to eat them", is a totally specious and bullshit argument. toyota's are safe. so should you have to buy a toyota if you'd rather buy a buick? of course not. it's not so much about the safety as it is about people want to be able to choose what food they ingest. it's called control over your freaking life.

i think a particularly ugly and disgusting example of the mindset of american trade officials was their outrage over starving africans refusing to eat american gm grain. i hope i wasn't the only one who was angry about this.

so here are starving people in africa, who just want some food aid. but what do trade representatives in washington, in their infinite wisdom, do? KNOWING that gm food is touchy subject in many parts of the world? they decide the only aid they're gonna send to those damn africans is gonna be gm grain.

the starving africans notice this and say what the fuck? we didn't ask for this. we don't want to eat this. please just help us. but what do trade representatives in washington do? do they actually listen to the starving africans? do they realize that maybe NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO PUSH GM PRODUCTS BECAUSE NOW IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO JUST HELP STARVING PEOPLE BY GIVING THEM THE AID THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE GETTING? do they actually follow the american business mantra that "consumers always come first"?

no. they get pissed off and they DON'T send the aid the africans thought they were getting. essentially, their logic is this: "you'll eat our dog shit if that's the aid we give you. besides, you're so hungry, so you should want to eat our dog shit, right? you may be hungry, but we're gonna dictate what you eat." this is the disgusting mindset, and the type of men and women who are behind it.

thirdly, why is it wrong for the europeans to do this to gm food when america can the same thing to imported, foreign steel? again, either both europe AND america are totally wrong, OR, both europe AND america are totally justified, and countries being protective of their markets is just a natural part of doing business.

>The Bush administration and agricultural businesses view the policy as simple protectionism because American companies, which dominate the biotechnology industry,would benefit most from lifting the ban. Without it, American companies would export about $300 billion more in corn each year than they do now, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.<

this is what massive agribusiness putting all their eggs in the gm basket looks like. is the bush admin. putting the same effort into doing this for non-gm american crops? of course not. the big, poweful agribusinesses have totally become single-minded, one-hitch wagons.

furthermore, ONLY large argribusinesses could BE the ones to come up with gm crops. they are the only ones with the resources to do the r&d. and furthermore, ONLY corporate agribusiness could BE the ones to try and dominate and lockdown the worldwide agriculture market. again, they are the only ones with the size and the wealth to even try to do something like that. the point is, gm crops are the perfect product of corporate agribusiness. the two go together, and it's no accident. only large corporation could create the product, and only large corporations could have the leverage to push it. so this isn't about poor american farmers. this about powerful, market dominating corporations, and it has been since day one. they run the show. theri interests are behind it all. the farmers, the africans, and everybody else are in the back seat.

TAKE 4 of "some comments". 20.Jun.2003 08:09

this thing here

(what's with the missing paragraphs, and having to post this 4 times to get it right?)

"Genetically modified food - which can grow more quickly than traditional crops and can be resistant to insects - has caused scant controversy in the United States, where people eat it every day. Almost 40 percent of all corn planted in this country in genetically modified."

the bush admin. loves to say that consumers in europe should be able to choose. but what about in america? if the gm crops are not labelled separately from the non-gm crops, there is NO ability to choose. and IF there were labels, WOULD 40% of corn grown in the u.s. be gm? that's a question monsanto, novartis, and cargill never, ever want to be in a position to have to answer. trade officials in the bush admin. and corporate argribusinesses could care less whether humans have an ability to choose between their products and someone else's. in fact, i think it's fair to say that in america at least, they DON'T want consumers to be able to choose.

secondly, i think this line that "because gm crops are safe, then there's no reason not to eat them", is a totally specious and bullshit argument. toyota's are safe. so should you have to buy a toyota if you'd rather buy a buick? of course not. it's not so much about the safety as it is about people want to be able to choose what food they ingest. it's called control over your freaking life.

i think a particularly ugly and disgusting example of the mindset of american trade officials was their outrage over starving africans refusing to eat american gm grain. i hope i wasn't the only one who was angry about this.

so here are starving people in africa, who just want some food aid. but what do trade representatives in washington, in their infinite wisdom, do? KNOWING that gm food is touchy subject in many parts of the world? they decide the only aid they're gonna send to those damn africans is gonna be gm grain.

the starving africans notice this and say what the fuck? we didn't ask for this. we don't want to eat this. please just help us. but what do trade representatives in washington do? do they actually listen to the starving africans? do they realize that maybe NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO PUSH GM PRODUCTS BECAUSE NOW IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO JUST HELP STARVING PEOPLE BY GIVING THEM THE AID THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE GETTING? do they actually follow the american business mantra that "consumers always come first"?

no. they get pissed off and they DON'T send the aid the africans thought they were getting. essentially, their logic is this: "you'll eat our dog shit if that's the aid we give you. besides, you're so hungry, so you should want to eat our dog shit, right? you may be hungry, but we're gonna dictate what you eat." this is the disgusting mindset, and the type of men and women who are behind it.

thirdly, why is it wrong for the europeans to do this to gm food when america can the same thing to imported, foreign steel? again, either both europe AND america are totally wrong, OR, both europe AND america are totally justified, and countries being protective of their markets is just a natural part of doing business.

"The Bush administration and agricultural businesses view the policy as simple protectionism because American companies, which dominate the biotechnology industry,would benefit most from lifting the ban. Without it, American companies would export about $300 billion more in corn each year than they do now, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation."

this is what massive agribusiness putting all their eggs in the gm basket looks like. is the bush admin. putting the same effort into doing this for non-gm american crops? of course not. the big, poweful agribusinesses have totally become single-minded, one-hitch wagons.

furthermore, ONLY large argribusinesses could BE the ones to come up with gm crops. they are the only ones with the resources to do the r&d. and furthermore, ONLY corporate agribusiness could BE the ones to try and dominate and lockdown the worldwide agriculture market. again, they are the only ones with the size and the wealth to even try to do something like that. the point is, gm crops are the perfect product of corporate agribusiness. the two go together, and it's no accident. only large corporation could create the product, and only large corporations could have the leverage to push it. so this isn't about poor american farmers. this about powerful, market dominating corporations, and it has been since day one. they run the show. theri interests are behind it all. the farmers, the africans, and everybody else are in the back seat.