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The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the European Union plans to go ahead with its plan to require the labeling of every and any product that contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a move that will, among other things, likely extend and expand a trade dispute with the US, where no such requirement exists.

The EU said that it was “totally justified for labeling to provide (consumers) with this information,” according to the WSJ.

The Bush Administration already has opposed such labeling in the US on the grounds that it would “scare” consumers,” and has told the World Trade Organization that such a requirement by the EU would discriminate against US farmers and processors who deal in bioengineered crops. While so far the debate is informal, it could become formal very quickly and escalate into a trade war between the US and EU.

While there does not seem to be any evidence that eating products containing GMOs is harmful to humans, the concern about this possibility is far more rampant in the EU than in the US, at least in part because of better lobbying there by environmental groups such as Greenpeace.

About 70% of processed food in the US contains genetically modified corn, soybeans or some other crop, the WSJ reports.

Complicating the matter is a referendum taking place in Oregon that would, if passed, require such labeling of products sold there containing GMOs. Food manufacturers are spending upwards of $4 million to prevent passage of this law, though some surveys suggest that six out of ten consumers there favor it.
KC's View:
The US can battle this all it wants. We think the EU is entirely justified in requiring the labels, and that eventually the US consumer will demand the same sort of truth in labeling. By arguing, all that the US government and US food manufacturers do is look like they are hiding something, especially when the government says that the truth would
“scare” people.

What scares us is that high government officials would seem to have such contempt for the public.