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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Farmers Plead for GM Rules

PARIS -- U.S. and European Union farmers have urged the World Trade Organization to adopt clear rules on global trade in genetically modified foods.

Speaking at a Paris debate Saturday, farmers' representatives said a reluctance among EU governments to allow imports of genetically modified food from the United States could stymie WTO talks this month in Seattle.

"We see biotechnology coming up as a potential trade barrier," said David King, secretary general of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, an umbrella group for farmers' unions around the world.

"It's a political agenda, not a scientific agenda," King said, adding that fear over genetically modified organisms had forced European states to actcautiously when authorizing imports.

Concern over GMOs is growing in Eu rope, where some countries have barred maize and soya shipments from across the Atlantic because U.S. authorities can't guarantee they contain only EU-approved varieties.

The United Stated says this has cost it some $200 million in maize sales alone over the past two years, and will push for the WTO to set clear rules on GMO approval.

U.S. farmers said the EU's reluctance to approve their crop strains amounted to a trade barrier, albeit one that did not use the traditional import tariffs.

"It's absolutely a nontariff barrier," said Alex Jackson of the U.S. Farm Bureau Federation.