EU Allows Sale of Genetically Modified Corn; Labeling Requirements Irk U.S

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Byline: Jeffrey Sparshott, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The European Union yesterday authorized the sale of genetically modified corn to consumers, ending a moratorium on biotech food sales within the 25-nation bloc.

Europe, since 1998, effectively banned new biotech food from its markets. The moratorium reflected consumer aversion to the products, but also has been a source of friction with the United States and other major producers of genetically altered crops.

The sweet corn approved yesterday is made by Swiss agrochemical firm Syngenta and will be sold as a canned product. The corn, already used in animal feed and other processed products, survived an extensive testing process and will have to be traced through the food chain and labeled as genetically modified.

The corn was not approved for cultivation within the European Union, and Syngenta said the EU approval would have no significant financial impact because of limited consumer acceptance.

The Bush administration and many U.S. producers have long complained that EU restrictions are not based on sound science and yesterday were unimpressed with the lone new approval.

"Our basic concern is that the EU does not have a consistently functioning approval process. Recent actions by EU authorities to advance a few biotech products through its process are not sufficient to address U.S. concerns," said Neena Moorjani, spokeswoman for the U.S. trade representative.

The United States, the world's biggest grower of genetically modified crops, is pursuing a case at the World Trade Organization against EU biotech restrictions.

U.S. corn farmers alone estimate they lose $250 million in annual exports because of European restrictions. …