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The EU has an arguably sensible approach to the contentious issue of GM foods It has decided to suspend authorisations for genetically modified food products until more stringent safety procedures have been agreed which is a response to overwhelming public opinion and insufficient scientific evidence of the potential dangers This is sound policy based on the scientific method and taking into account the opinion of the people to whom the EU is accountable the public The powerful US however is threatening a billion-dollar trade war with Europe as a result of this policy The US ambassador to the EU Dick Morningstar in his first policy statement in his new position spoke of politics and demagoguery taking over the regulatory process In particular he blamed the UK for creating a climate where the EU was on the verge of breaking World Trade Organisation WTO rules on export restrictions He spoke of the medias love of a good food scare and the way that public debate is based on these scare stories and nightmare scenarios with little or no scientific basis Perhaps he should learn a lesson from those of us who have already lived through the BSE crisis rather than assuming that such a thing could never happen in his country After all a stitch in time saves nine Discussing the potential for a trade war he said Until the EU can credibly separate science based risk assessments and regulations from the political process the outlook for resolution of this issue is bleak He also spoke of the EUs overreaction to the Belgian dioxin scare Ignoring the fact that dioxins are the most toxic substances known to humankind He hinted that this was another potential trade flashpoint Mr Morningstar is in the right if you take the WTO regulations as read They state that a nation cannot ban imports of a product unless it is proven to be unsafe As GM crops are a young technology
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