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US says EU rules on biotech crops 'unnecessary'

Restrictions cause delays in approval of traits 'despite positive assessments' the US Trade Representative's office says
The United States has criticized "unnecessary" European Union rules against genetically modified US crop imports as it prepares to enter free-trade talks with the EU.

The United States has criticized "unnecessary" European Union rules against genetically modified US crop imports as it prepares to enter free-trade talks with the EU.

EU restrictions notably have resulted in delays in the approval of new GM traits "despite positive assessments by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)," the US Trade Representative's office said in a report on reducing trade sanitary barriers.

The USTR also criticized the EU for imposing "commercially infeasible requirements" on GE content in food products under EU Traceability and Labeling regulations.

"Foreign governments continue to impose discriminatory or otherwise unwarranted measures on US agricultural exports," Demetrios Marantis, the acting USTR, said in a conference call.

"These barriers not only harm US ranchers and farmers... but they also deprive consumers around the world an access to safe, high-quality US food and agricultural goods," Marantis said.

Graphic on genetically altered corn
Graphic on genetically altered corn. Allowed in the US, GM crops are strictly regulated in the EU where only two GM foods have been authorized. Eight member states, including Germany and France, have adopted measures to keep them out.

The US and the EU are planning to launch negotiations aimed at creating the world's biggest free-trade area that will cover the politically sensitive question of genetically modified crops.

Allowed in the US, they are strictly regulated in the EU where only two GM crops have been authorized. Eight member states, including Germany and France, have adopted measures to keep them out.

The USTR pointed to the EU's "unnecessary and burdensome coexistence requirements to planting of GE crops alongside non-GE crops by certain EU member states."

A French official, speaking on condition of anonymity last month, said that France did not want the upcoming trade negotiations to cover genetically modified crops.

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