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Fischler Talks EU

posted on February 7, 2003

There is little doubt the probability of War in Iraq is altering international politics. The U.S. and the European Union have for years argued over farm subsidies and G-M-O's.

But the prospect of the U.S. filing trade complaints on either matter has, on the eve of war, been shelved to placate European allies.

For their part European officials are using the break from trade tensions to reconnect with official Washington.


Fischler Talks EU

While addressing reporters at the National Press Club, Fischler hit two of the hot-button issues facing world agriculture; genetically modified crops and subsidies.

Franz Fischler, European Union Minister of Agriculture: "we want to cut the link between subsidies and production and give the farmer an income payment independent of how much wheat or beef he or she produces."

The battle has come down to both sides trying to force each other to stop support payments that flood the market with cheap agricultural products.

Fischler also reaffirmed the European Union position on genetically modified grains.

Franz Fischler, European Union Minister of Agriculture: "First of all, we are not against, some critics say, we are not against biotechnology but the invention of biotechnology in the agricultural sector must be based on science but must also be based on law."

Last month, the USDA and U.S. Trade Representative both called on the E.U. to drop its almost five year old ban on GM crops or they would go to the World Trade Organization. Fischler asked for patience from U.S. interests.

Franz Fischler, European Union Minister of Agriculture: "but wouldn't it be worse to wait now for three or four other months..."

The legislation contains controversial provisions on the limit of GM seeds allowed in every non-GM load as well as the ability to trace and label the contents of each load. Even so, if the U.S. pursues a remedy with the WTO Fischler warned all negotiations would stop.

Franz Fischler, European Union Minister of Agriculture: "...there is also a clear risk that our skeptical consumers would take this as an opportunity to make even more difficulties against the use of GMOs in food than they did in the past."

The Council of Ministers has already approved the new rules but the entire European Union Parliament has yet to take up the measure.


Tags: agriculture crops European Union genetic engineering news