GM corn, feta cheese: hurdles for EU-U.S. trade talks
An exasperated U.S. industry says Europe has no need to change its rules, but must consider whether it is necessary to label GM product as such, and speed up the process of approvals.
Some 74 GM products were awaiting EU clearance at the end of 2012, with authorisation taking almost four years, compared with two in the United States.
Resistance is not uniform. The EU livestock industry says that if more GM feeds were cleared it would reduce the cost of verifying that imports contain no traces of non-approved crops.
"Today, a ship is transporting an EU-approved product, but we need to know what was it transporting before." said Meriaux. "Who is paying for all that? The EU sector."
Elsewhere, progress has been made.
The United States said last month it would comply with international standards for the prevention of mad cow disease, potentially reopening a market closed to EU beef since 1998.
The EU has lifted bans on imports of U.S. beef washed with lactic acid and of live swine. The U.S. poultry industry wants the EU to accept chickens washed with chlorine.
EU consumers are suspicious of U.S. poultry treated with chlorine dioxide and beef treated with lactic acid to kill pathogens, concerned that using such chemicals make the food unsafe. The United States says there is ample evidence that they are safe and the issue infuriates U.S. farmers, who see them as nothing other than veiled protectionism for European farmers.
The European Union meanwhile is determined to write into any deal its system of geographical indications, which protects countries' or regions' exclusive right to product names, such as France's champagne, Greek Feta cheese or Italian Parma ham.
U.S. groups say this demand "defies credibility" because in the cause of free trade, U.S. producers would, for example, no longer be able to market cheeses as "feta".
The United States also has its own product bans, such as raw-milk cheese that is not aged for at least 60 days, barring some French cheeses, such as blue-veined Roquefort.
Some EU sausages cannot access the U.S. market because of a zero tolerance to listeria in fermented meat products.
"The United States has told us that they will very likely not change their minds on this," said Dirk Dobbelaere, secretary general of EU meat processing association Clitravi.
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