Europe’s modified-food fears continue

Kyle James Jan 11, 2008


Scott Jagow: Today was the deadline for Europe to lighten up its rules on importing genetically modified foods. This is an order from the World Trade Organization. American farmers would love to export more of those crops to Europe, but many Europeans want nothing to do with what they call “Frankenfoods.” Kyle James reports from Berlin.

Kyle James: For American farmers, biotech crops are the norm. For example, 73 percent of U.S. corn fields have them. GM crops have been genetically altered to produce higher yields, repel pests, or have longer shelf lives.

But U.S. farmers face high hurdles when it comes to Europe, which has a very strict, and slow, approval process for GM food imports.

Analyst Mark Rhinard says that’s because anti-GM sentiment in Europe is strong.

Mark Rhinard: Lobby groups have taken a very strong position, and seen this as an important issue to try to work against. A little bit of a feeling that large corporations are trying to push genetically modified foods down the throats of consumers, and that’s something Europeans don’t want.

Europe claims it’s working to smooth its GM approval process. But the U.S. is getting impatient, and it could ask the World Trade Organization today to take action. A trade war could be on the horizon.

In Berlin, I’m Kyle James for Marketplace.

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