Feburary 7, 2006


The World Trade Organization hands down a key ruling on genetically modified foods, or GM foods. The US, Canada, and Argentina are angry at the European Union. They say Europe's refusal to import GM crops is irrational and bad for trade. Helen Palmer has more now from the health desk:

PALMER: Europeans distrust genetically modified food, calling it Frankenfood. EU rules say food with GM ingredients must be labeled, and that's effectively cut them off store shelves. David Waskow of Friends of the Earthy says Europeans should decide if they want biotech crops, not the World Trade Organization.

WASKOW: “We just don't think it's the right forum to decide what food should be in the marketplace.”

PALMER: There are still safety questions about GM crops, says Waskow, and European delays are precautionary. But Jon Entine, author of the new book Let Them Eat Precaution, says Europe's reluctance helps keep GM foods out of developing countries where they could reduce hunger.

ENTINE: “The people paying the price, besides major producers like the United States, Argentina, and Canada, will be the world's poor.”

PALMER: Genetically engineered crops are more nutritious, says Entine. But African countries that overwhelmingly trade with Europe distrust them too.

In Boston, I'm Helen Palmer, for Marketplace.