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The New York Times reports this morning on the conflict that exists between much of Europe and the US over the issue of genetically modified foods.

“Tinkering with the genetic makeup of crops to make them faster-growing and more resilient, something done routinely in the United States with seldom a pang of consumer concern, is seen (in Europe) as heretical, or at the very least unhealthy,” the NYT reports.

Robert B. Zoellick, the United States trade representative, calls Europe's stance on genetically modified food "Luddite" and "immoral.” The NYT notes that when he said “that Europeans' fears about GM foods had persuaded some famine-ridden countries in Africa to reject genetically altered grains,” it appeared to some Europeans as if he was blaming them for starvation in Africa.

David Byrne, the European Union's health and consumer protection commissioner, called Zoellick’s comments “unhelpful,” “unfair” and “wrong."

For the moment, the Bush administration has decided not to pursue this issue through legal channels because it needs to keep Europe on its side during any potential conflict with Iraq.
KC's View:
We have no problem conceptually with eating foods that include GMOs, but referring to European feelings in the matter as "Luddite" and "immoral” strikes us as the worst kind of American arrogance.

You wonder why the US gets a bad reputation in the world sometimes, and then you read comments like that and suddenly it all seems clear. After all, how would we feel if, say, France decided to lecture us on our opinions about the foods we put into our bodies?