US President George W. Bush has accused Europe of hindering US efforts to end famine in Africa by blocking new bioengineered crops.

“Our partners in Europe are impeding this effort. They have blocked all new bio-crops because of unfounded, unscientific fears,” Bush was quoted by Reuters as saying.

“This has caused many African nations to avoid investing in bio-technologies for fear that their products will be shut out of European markets. European governments should join – not hinder – the great cause of ending hunger in Africa.”

While supporters of biotechnology say GMOs could increase crop yields, critics warn of unforeseen consequences such as damage to the environment and contamination of organic crops.

US officials announced last week that they will file a World Trade Organisation (WTO) case against the EU over its moratorium on approving agricultural biotech products.

In response, the European Commission said it regretted the US decision, calling it “misguided, unnecessary, legally unwarranted, economically unfounded and politically unhelpful”.
Regarding famine in Africa and GM food aid, the European Commission said it believes that it is the legitimate right of developing countries’ governments to fix their own level of protection and to take the decision they deem appropriate to prevent unintentional dissemination of GM seeds.

“Food aid to starving populations should be about meeting the urgent humanitarian needs of those who are in need. It should not be about trying to advance the case for GM food abroad, or planting GM crops for export, or indeed finding outlets for domestic surplus, which is a regrettable of the US food aid policy,” the Commission continued.