US Government Opposes Science, Factual Information
Labelling of GM Foods -- Demanded by Citizens, Demanded by Justice, Demanded by Freedom, Demanded by Science, Refused by Government
Here are some of the latest developments in the battle between people who favor an informed public, free choice, scientific safety testing and a free market, versus those who favor special privileges for genetically modified foods that have not been tested scientifically.
From the Guardian (United Kingdom)
New trade war looms over GM labelling
by Paul BrownEurope and the United States are on a collision course over the issue of the labelling of genetically modified food which threatens to spark a trade war.
Washington has warned the EU that it is considering making a formal complaint to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva on the grounds that labelling GM products is "unfair discrimination" against US goods and therefore a restraint of trade. The US says it will ask the WTO to impose sanctions against EU exports if GM labels are not removed from supermarket shelves.
[The Progress Report interjects -- it is not "unfair discrimination" to provide consumers with factual information. Why does the US government wish to hide facts from U.S. citizens who are consumers?]
The row comes at a time when trade relations with the US are tense over other disputes.
A spokeswoman for the US food and drug administration, which insists that only nutritional information should be on the label, said: "This is getting extremely serious. We regard requiring GM labelling as economic fraud. Our view is that we would not have allowed these products on the market if they were not safe, they are the same as non-GM food, so they do not require a label. In fact, to label them is trade discrimination and therefore wrong."
[The Progress Report interjects -- that arrogant official has it wrong. The US did allow those products on the market without testing, as has been documented numerous times. Rather than taking steps to provide safety assurances for its own citizens, the government is trying to bully other governments, which care more for their citizens' safety, to eliminate their own labelling programs.]
The agency confirmed there had been discussions with the European commission over labelling and the restraint of trade issue, but the two sides were "as far apart as ever".
In Brussels, Beate Kminde, speaking for the commission, said the EU was aware of US threats but no formal complaint had been made. "We are aware of our trade obligations but we also believe in consumer choice so we require GM foods to be labelled. The Americans will not accept this but we are determined. We will have to see what they do."
Unless the row is resolved, there could be a trade war that would make present disputes seem very small.
The British government is already braced for heavy job losses in the Scottish cashmere industry as a result of US anti-trade retaliations in the long-running US-EU banana dispute. US officials complain that Caribbean producers in former colonies of EU members are getting preferential treatment.
Britain has so far escaped sanctions in the row over the EU ban on the use of hormones in beef, which has led to a 12-year embargo on US beef. Goods including French cheese and truffles and German and French mustards have faced 100% US anti-trade tariffs in tit-for-tat action.
The EU meanwhile has complained about US corporate welfare, export subsidies to huge corporations such as Boeing, Exxon, Ford and Monsanto.
Regulators on opposite sides of the Atlantic disagree about the purpose of food labels and the EU stance on consumer choice is regarded as fundamentally wrong in Washington. The FDA believes [without scientific evidence] that GM foods are safe and the nutritional value is the same as non-GM foods, so there should be no mention on the label of the "process" by which the food was grown.
The FDA and other regulators decided in May to look again at the issue after US organic and other food producers began to label their food GM-free.
Want more background? For The Progress Report's original editorial on this subject, click here.
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