Wednesday, July 14, 1999 Published at 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
US to label GM foods
US farmers have taken to GM crops in a big way
The US Government has said that it will probably agree to label genetically-modified (GM) food.
Up to now, the Clinton administration has opposed GM labelling, agreeing with the American food industry that it unfairly stigmatises what they regard as perfectly safe products.
But the US Agriculture Secretary, Dan Glickman, said that relations with Europe on the GM issue could deteriorate into an all-out trade war and labelling was a way in which such a crisis might be avoided.
Speaking before an audience of environmentalists, lobbyists and lawmakers, Mr Glickman extolled the benefits of biotechnology. He said the technology would lead to increased yields and a decrease in the use of pesticides.
According to Mr Glickman, several European countries were letting their fears override these potential benefits. And he urged them to sort out their internal differences as soon as possible.
"Both sides of the Atlantic must tone down rhetoric, roll up their sleeves, and work towards conflict resolution, based on open trade, sound science, and consumer involvement. And I think this can be done if the will is there."
American farmers are producing more and more genetically-engineered products, with 44% of American soya beans and 36% of corn coming from GM seeds.
Threat to butterflies
This has prompted the US Environmental Defence Fund to petition the country's Environmental Protection Agency to introduce rules that would see buffer zones of 18 metres (60 feet) around GM corn to protect the butterflies.
But a study presented on Tuesday by an association of biotechnology companies and research institutions said more research was required to establish the real threat to butterflies.
Leonard Gianessi, senior research associate at the US National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, said: "I know of these risk concerns, I believe that the agency will look very closely at those kind of risk concerns, to the Monarch and others.
"And if they conclude that there is a risk, an increased risk, then they will do something about it. So there will be more research done."