The US has agreed to give the EU longer to meet a ruling from the World Trade Organisation on approving GM crops.

Washington has granted Brussels a "limited period" to show "meaningful progress" over the long-running dispute.

"The United States remains very concerned with EU treatment of agricultural biotech products," said USTR spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel. "We are taking steps necessary under WTO rules to preserve our right in the WTO to suspend trade concessions.

"At the same time, our goal is to normalise trade in biotech products, not to impose trade sanctions on EU goods. The EU has committed to making biotech approval decisions based on science and without unnecessary delays, and it is in both parties' interest for the EU to follow through on these commitments."

In 2006, the WTO ruled that the EU needed to bring its measures on GM into compliance with its obligations to the trade body.

Nevertheless, EU member states remain sceptical about the safety of GM products. On Friday, France announced a temporary ban on a strain of GM corn amid doubts over the safety of the product.

Hamel said Washington was dismayed by the move and hoped the EU would lift the ban. "It is hard to overstate our disappointment with this new biotech ban," she said. This newly banned variety of corn has been grown safely in the EU, the United States, and around the world for over a decade."