EU: Bio-techs seek earlier GM crop approvals as threat of trade war looms

Monsanto and AgrEvo have offered to improve crop monitoring and provide information that will allow GM food labelling in Europe in an effort to get EU approval for new GM crop varieties. The offer coincided with reports that the US Ambassador to the EU has raised the spectre of a trade war if the EU continues to block sales in Euroland of US-grown GM crops.

EU environment ministers, meeting in June, decided not to authorise any new GM crops until a revised approvals system was established. The changes proposed by the two bio-tech companies represent an attempt to compromise in exchange for approval of new GM crop approvals in advance of any formal adoption of a revised GM approval system for the EU.

“They are not changes to the licensing submission, but an effort to comply with whatever will come out eventually as EU regulation,” Ken Baker of Monsanto told edie. Baker acknowledged that Monsanto would like to avoid the lengthy delays that are expected to accompany the process of approving a new EU system for GM crop approval.

“In Europe, people want to take GM crops slowly,” Catherine Fookes campaign manager at the UK organic food organisation, Soil Association, told edie. “What’s the rush? The rush is profit, obviously. It’s good to hear that they’re listening to consumer demand for GM labelling, but this is something that environmental groups have been calling for for years. It’s common sense and they’re just getting around to it.”

At the same time that approval for growing new varieties of GM crops in Europe are stalled, the American ambassador to the EU, Richard Morningstar, has warned that Europe risks a trade war with the US if it continues to block the sale and growing of GM crops.

Morningstar also accused the EU of overreacting to the dioxin-in-animal-feed scandal in Belgium, and suggested that the EU’s proposals for the recovery and recycling of “end of life” electrical and electronic equipment could be in breach World Trade Organisation regulations.

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