Radical draft European laws on the labelling and tracing of genetically modified organisms could jeopardise US agricultural exports worth more than $4 billion a year, a senior US official warned yesterday, reports the Financial Times.
Alan Larson, under-secretary at the State Department, said that proposals backed last month by the European parliament had the "very serious potential" to cause further disruption to US-EU trade. The measures, unpopular with the European-wide food and drink industry, will become law once EU governments have thrashed out a compromise with the parliament, probably next year.
"I'm very concerned about the measure that emerged from the European parliament," Mr Larson told the FT. "There's some $4billion of agricultural trade that seems to me would be put at risk by the measures now under consideration. That would include soybean exports, corn gluten exports and some exports of processed food products."
The plans would set up a system to trace GMOs through the food chain, requiring all foods derived from GMOs to carry a label, even if they contained no detectable traces of modified protein or DNA. Animal feedstuffs would also be subject to detailed labelling, a move largely welcomed by the food industry.
Mr Larson said the US was already losing about $300m in annual corn exports to the EU because of a four-year moratorium in Europe on approving new GM crops, which means that GM varieties grown widely in the US cannot be shipped to Europe.