12 August 1999
‘GM to spark another trade war’

THE top US representative in Brussels has of a $1 billion (£622m) trade war over the EUs decision to suspend licences for genetically modified food.

Richard Morningstar, the recently-appointed US ambassador to the EU, claimed that “politics and demagoguery have completely taken over the regulatory process”.

He also said the EU was over-reacting to the Belgian food scare, and was moving towards imposing a ban on animal feed substances which are permitted in the USA.

This could lead to another trade spat with the USA. The USA and Europe have come into conflict in the past year over trade in hormone-treated beef and bananas.

The USA has already deregulated its GM industry, which means that many US agricultural exports already contain some genetically modified element.

Morningstar calculated that even the EUs temporary ban would cost US wheat producers $200m (£124m) this year.

The EU decided in June to suspend new authorisations for GM crops until a tougher system of safety standards had been agreed.

The revised rules are expected to include an automatic review for GM products after 10 years, tighter safety checks and the establishment of an ethical committee to oversee genetic experiments.