U.S. To Wait On EU Biotech Case?

The Bush administration may have decided to put off initiating a trade action against the European Union over its moratorium on genetically modified crops.

European Union Farm Minister Franz Fischler told reporters that Undersecretary of State Alan Larson told him the Bush administration had decided against initiating a case for now. However, U.S. officials left open that possibility if the EU did not move to lift its moratorium, Fischler said.

A State Department spokesman denied Larson had relayed such information to Fischler. "The undersecretary did not address the timing of a WTO case," the spokesman told Reuters News Service.

Reading a prepared statement, the spokesman said, "In his meeting with Commissioner Fischler, Undersecretary Larson underscored the reasons why the administration, leaders of Congress and our agriculture community believe the European Union must lift its moratorium on biotech products."

However, a scheduled Cabinet-level meeting on Monday to discuss the issue was called off. A new date has not been set, a trade lobbyist told Reuters.

Also, The New York Times on Wednesday reported the administration had decided against bringing a case for now. The Times quoted an unidentified official who said, "There is no point in testing Europeans on food while they are being tested on Iraq."

A U.S. House Agriculture Committee staff worker told Reuters he had not gotten any communication from the administration indicating a case would not be brought against the EU. "We're not giving up on the case," the staffer said.

Editors note: Richard Brock, Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.