EU opens doors to GMOs
Seeking to avoid a trade battle with Washington, the European Parliament paved the way for new biotech foods to be sold in Europe if they are clearly labeled. But the Bush administration complained that the labeling requirements are onerous. Under the new laws, hundreds of American-made foods would have to be labeled as having genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, because many of them contain starches or syrups derived from genetically engineered corn. The 626-member EU assembly, meeting in Strasbourg, France, gave final approval Wednesday to legislation introducing the tougher labeling of new genetically altered food products. That will enable consumers to tell whether products contain biotech ingredients and allow the European Union to do away with its five-year freeze on the introduction of new biotech products.
■ Economic aid
Bush urges development
US President George W. Bush on Wednesday pledged to promote Palestinian development to instill an "economic hope" needed to foster peace with Israel. Bush's remarks came as his administration was considering increasing economic aid to the Palestinian Authority and for the first time providing it directly, rather than through international groups that bypass the authority. "The circum-stances of who we are dealing with in the Palestinian Authority have changed from night to day," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. Bush is also seeking a Middle East free trade agreement. Bush spoke by telephone with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah. "I urged them to continue to stay involved in the process," he said. "We must condemn terror at all instances, we must cut off money to terrorist organizations in order to keep this progress moving."
Softbank offers games
Softbank Corp, Japan's second-largest provider of high-speed Internet services, plans to start a Web-based game service this month, with the aim of offering 100 game titles by the year ending next March. Billionaire Masayoshi Son's Tokyo-based company will open the Web site to its "BB Games" service on July 25. To bolster content, Softbank will tie up with 80 South Korean game makers. The company will eventually expand the number of game titles to 300, Softbank said in a news release distributed to reporters.
Airwaves go toward WiFi
More of the world's airwaves will be allocated to wireless Internet users under an agreement reached by negotiators at the World Radiocom-munication Conference, the Associated Press said, citing US and EU officials. A conference committee and one plenary session have cleared the way to expand the space available for wireless local-area networks. The move is likely to be approved before the meeting ends, the wire service said. Wireless fidelity, or Wi-Fi, enables a broadband Internet connection to be shared by different computers within a short range. Cable-free access points have appeared in offices, cafes, airports and hotels. The 180-nation conference sets standards on the use of airwaves in different countries. The meeting is being held in Geneva.