Officials in Washington have decided not to file a complaint against the European Union with the World Trade Organisation over the EU’s stance on genetically modified foods.

The US had indicated it was putting together a complaint about the EU’s refusal to accept new GM crops or seeds following a decision to that effect in 1998. The US claimed that backward-looking European officials were thereby contravening agreed free trade rules. US soy is sold in the EU, as it was approved prior to the 1998 ruling, but no other GM crops or seeds.

Peter Kurz, the US embassy in London’s minister counsellor for agricultural affairs, told the BBC that the USA’s complaint would be dropped forthwith. Kurz told the broadcasting service’s Radio 4 Farming Today programme that the decision “was made at a high level of government. I suppose the idea was we don’t need further trade irritants”.

The USA will undoubtedly remain highly concerned about the EU’s sceptical attitude to genetically modified crops. The US does not recognise sufficient grounds for concern to justify the EU attitude, and does not believe food products containing GM ingredients should be labelled to indicate this to consumers.

Kurz denied there was any link between the complaint being dropped and the perceived need for the US to reinforce links of friendship with ally nations as it prepares for a looming war against Iraq.

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