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2014-09-29

EU-US trade deal could open the door to GM food in Europe, campaigners warn

Horse TTIP - a trojan horse? (Photo: Gillian/flickr)

As the seventh round of EU-U.S. negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement kicks off in Washington today, fears are growing that the proposed trade deal will lead to food contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) being allowed into Europe for human consumption, despite public affirmations that food safety standards would be maintained. According to Friends of the Earth Europe, analysis from recently completed trade negotiations with Canada - seen as a model for TTIP - suggests that the EU has already agreed to co-operate with Canada, allowing low levels of GMO contamination in food and seed. The campaign group says that a leaked letter from the EU's former food safety chief signals a willingness to increase imports of GM rapeseed as part of the Canadian trade deal. “Once Europe has accepted low levels of GM contamination, there is a real risk that the existing protection will be whittled away. This trade deal agreed with Canada shows that the EU negotiators are too happy to trade away citizens' rights and environmental protections in order to benefit industry”, says Friends of the Earth Europe food campaigner Mute Schimpf. The proposed TTIP would be the biggest free trade deal in history. US negotiators and industry lobbyists have been pushing for weaker rules on GM imports, arguing that the EU’s current “zero tolerance” rule on GMOs is a barrier to trade, and damages business for US exporters. Mrs Schimpf warns that the biotech industry is using their lobby power in what she calls a “Trojan horse trade deal” to open up the European market to foods contaminated with GMOs.

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