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EU says Austria has Lifted a Ban on Importing and Processing Genetically Modified Corn
The Associated Press,
June 24 2008

GENEVA: Austria has lifted a ban on importing and processing genetically modified corn as part of the European Union's efforts to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling on biotech foods, the EU said Tuesday.
At a regular meeting of the organization, the 27-nation EU informed trading partners that it was cooperating in good faith with Argentina, Canada and the United States, which have successfully pressed their case at the WTO.
The EU said it was taking steps to comply with a 2006 ruling that European countries illegally hindered the sale of genetically modified foods and cited the decision of the Austrian government, long one of Europe's most resistant, to allow genetically modified maize to be imported and processed.
The bloc said the ban was lifted on May 27.
Robert Prochazka at the Austrian mission in Geneva confirmed that his country implemented an EU decision on corn last month. It doesn't allow for the genetically modified crop to be planted in Austria, he said.
Genetically modified foods are highly sensitive on both sides of the Atlantic. European governments such as Germany and France, as well as a number of environmental groups, contend that many such crops are potentially unsafe for humans and the environment.
But the WTO in November 2006 concluded that the European Union had breached commitments from 1998-2004 with respect to 21 products, including types of oilseed rape, maize and cotton. It added that individual bans in Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg were illegal, while sidestepping examinations of current EU legislation and whether biotech foods are actually safe.
The European Union had claimed the 2006 ruling was only theoretical since it officially ended its six-year moratorium on the products in 2004 by allowing onto the market a modified strain of sweet corn, grown mainly in the United States.
The U.S. said Tuesday that biotechnology could help offset some of the problems incurred by higher prices for food staples.
"The recent rise in world food prices reinforces the importance of the EC implementing its WTO commitments to adopt timely, science-based decisions on agricultural products developed using modern biotechnology," the U.S. said in a statement.
Argentina and Canada said they were extending until August 12 a deadline for EU compliance with the WTO ruling.

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