In an attempt to reopen the process of approving the sale and production of new varieties of genetically modified crops, the European Union this week approved a draft plan that will require labeling of gene- altered foods. Notably, the proposal would also require data that track the movement of such foods from farm gate to dinner plate.
Even though the plan could open the lucrative EU market to G-M-Os, American farm groups are complaining the labeling and traceability requirements of the plan are cost-prohibitive and could provoke another trade flap.
It's no surprise the EU moratorium on G-M-Os is a sore spot with many U.S. farm groups. Nowhere has the technology been so widely deployed as on the American farm.
Survey numbers released by the USDA show that GMOs dominant U.S. commodity crop acres. 75% of the soybeans, 34% of the corn and 71% of the cotton acres were sown with biotech seeds.
Problems only seem to arise when distribution questions come up. European Union countries still staunchly oppose the use of GM products. Political walls have been erected to keep transgenic grains out of Europe with labeling being chief among them. Though it would appear that many of the arguments against transgenic crops have been answered scientifically the blockade remains in place.
A report released by the Council on Foreign Relations Study Group, a Washington think-tank, has attempted to quantify the problems facing both users and creators of transgenic products. David Victor, one of the authors and a Stanford University sustainable development professor, identifies a fundamental concern of EU nation officials.
David G. Victor, Stanford University: "This kind of woolly notion that there is natural food, where we haven't touched anything, we just, some guy was walking along a street and saw a tomato and picked it up and sold it as a natural tomato, versus engineered food is the wrong way to think about it. But let me not take that too far because there's no doubt that politically there's a big difference between the two."
The white paper identifies three ways to avoid derailing the development of GMOs.
-Find ways to assist third-world farmers in purchasing GM seeds, potentially through government assistance.
-Remove barriers to the bio-tech seed market. Increased sales will provide incentive for further product development
-and find ways to solve the trade conflicts between the U.S. and EU.
Officials with the Council on Foreign Relations Study Group stated one of the ways to bring down the wall would be through independent testing of foods by a disinterested third-party.