US outburst over Europeanresistance to GM crops

18 June 1998

US outburst over European
resistance to GM crops

EUROPEAN resistance to genetically modified (GM) crops will mean US farmers will lose $200 million-worth of exports of maize to the European Union (EU) this year, according to a senior US official.

Gus Schumacher, under-secretary of agriculture, said the USA wanted the removal of unfair trade barriers, such as labelling requirements, to be included in next years World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks.

Speaking at the International Grains Council annual conference in London yesterday, Mr Schumacher also called for the phasing out of export subsidies, the reduction or end of tariffs, the lifting or elimination of quotas and the decoupling of government support payments from production to end trade distortion.

He also said production of GM maize (known as corn in the USA) would double this year from 10% to 20% of the crop.

Mr Schumacher also claimed US approval of GM crops had been made on the best scientific information. He accused France of delaying approval of some GM maize. France will hold a public debate on GM crops next week, after which approval could follow.

The Financial Times said Mr Shumachers speech was likely to increase the tension in EU-USA trade relations over GM crops.

Meanwhile, India attacked the USA at the same conference over the patenting of a RiceTecs Basmati rice which it called “a classic case of economic hijack”. Sujit Singh Barnala, Indian food minister, said patenting Basmati rice to be grown in America was like saying Scotch whisky could be made in India.

See more