European Union farm ministers meeting this week in Biarritz, France, were divided over how fast to clear new genetically modified crops and maintain public confidence already battered by a series of health scandals, Reuters reported yesterday. France, as current EU president, is trying to build a consensus around the cautious position on genetically modified crops. French farm minister Jean Glavany said two member states, Belgium and the Netherlands, openly criticised the text for being too cautious. Officials added that both Germany and Britain also urged the EU should be more positive. EU food safety commissioner David Byrne is to try to push through plans to kick-start the EU's GM authorisation procedure, which has been stalled by an unofficial moratorium for the past three years. The EU has not cleared such a crop since this time. Byrne said the legislation would be finalised over the next few months and would include provisions on labelling, traceability, time limited authorisations, and a continuing need for research.