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Wed, Oct 15, 2003 - Page 12 News List

EU commissioner blasts `lies' of US biotech firms

AFP , LONDON

The EU's Environment Commissioner, Margot Wallstrom, has accused US biotech firms of trying to lie about the benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops in an attempt to force them upon Europe.

In a broadside against the firms, Wallstrom said their objective was to solve starvation amongst shareholders rather than in the developing world.

Her comments in an interview with journalists, extracts of which were carried in a London newspaper yesterday, come as Britain's government prepares to publish long-awaited results of GM crop trials.

"They tried to lie to people, and they tried to force it upon people," the Swede told reporters over lunch in London on Monday, The Independent reported.

"It's the wrong approach. You cannot force it upon Europe," she said.

"So I hope they have learnt a lesson from this, especially when they now try to argue that this will solve the problems of starvation in the world and so on.

"But come on ... it was to solve starvation amongst shareholders, not the developing world," Wallstrom added.

The European Parliament passed legislation in July approving the sale of GM foods in five years' time, provided those with a GM content of 0.9 percent or more are clearly labelled.

But the US filed a suit in June with the WTO, saying a five-year moratorium on approvals of new GM crops maintained by the EU had deprived it of a potential US$300-million export market.

Britain will publish the results tomorrow of three-year field scale trials of three GM crops -- maize, oil seed rape and sugar beet.

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