Bush on Wrong Side of Food Labeling

From: John Nichols / The Capital Times,Madison.
Date: 06 Sep 2001
Time: 04:36:15
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~Published on Tuesday, September 4, 2001 in the Madison Capital Times: <http://www.captimes.com/index.php>

Much has been made of the Bush administration's determination to refuse to cooperate with the international community on issues ranging from nuclear disarmament to global warming to race relations. And, of course, these are all appropriate concerns. But the Bush team's rejection of the global consensus extends far beyond those high-profile issues, and it is often more damaging to initiatives that lack the sort of attention drawn by the Kyoto Accord and the United Nations Conference on Racism. Consider, for instance, recent moves by the Bush administration to undermine the global movement for labeling genetically modified foods. The rest of the world takes very seriously the question of whether food products should be genetically altered to make them prettier, or bigger, or - as is usually the motivation - cheaper for processors to produce.

The more people learn what is being done to their food by multinational corporations in the name of convenience and profit, the more they object. Those objections have led to dramatic shifts in public policy in the Middle East, Asia and Europe, where nations have enacted laws requiring that food products that have been genetically modified - or that contain genetically modified ingredients - be labeled as such.

These requirements are extremely popular in Europe, and in American communities where strong "safe food" consciousness - as evidenced by our fine restaurants and co-ops, the annual Food for Thought festival and, of course, the Farmers' Market - has created a constituency for organic products from small farms and responsible processors. Wherever labeling has been broadly employed - either by law in Europe or in food co-ops in the United States - consumer purchasing patterns have dramatically shifted, as most folks reject genetically modified foods in favor of organic and traditionally produced items.

With its close ties to agribusiness conglomerates, however, the Bush administration is no friend of labeling. Labeling initiatives in the United States, such as a very good proposal from U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, languish in Congress. And on the international scene the United States is fast becoming the No. 1 foe of labeling.

The Bush administration is reportedly taking steps to withdraw from the international Biosafety Protocol, an agreement in which the Clinton administration acknowledged growing concerns about genetic modification of food. And last week, senior Bush aides were pressuring the European Union to drop a plan to require that foods sold on the continent carry labels identifying any genetically modified contents. The United States, a leader in agricultural biotechnology experimentation and one of the world's most aggressive exporters of genetically modified foods, objected to the labeling purely for commercial reasons.

The Bush administration is claiming that the European Union's labeling law violates the World Trade Organization's free-trade protections - since it would require that American food products shipped to Europe carry information that, in all likelihood, would cause European consumers to avoid purchasing those products. That's probably true, but it does not excuse the Bush administration's wrongminded approach.

Using international trade policy to force other countries to allow deceptive sales of products that their consumers do not want is an unwise approach that ultimately will give all U.S. food products a bad name internationally. In the end, it will do tremendous damage to the interests of American farmers who produce safe, healthful foods but who will be tarnished with the "unsafe food" brush because of the Bush administration's wrongminded policies.

Like so many of the Bush camp's international interventions, its food fight is already going sour. European parliamentarians are talking about answering the Bush administration's pressure with tighter restrictions on genetically modified imports - raising the prospect of a serious trade war. Says Charles Margulis, a leading campaigner for safe food in Europe: "The U.S. is trying to force-feed modified foods to the rest of the world, and it just isn't going to work."

Copyright 2001 The Capital Times

~Copy from Common Dreams/NewsCenter: <http://www.commondreams.org/> Is a non-profit news service providing breaking news and views for the Progressive Community.


EU avala concesión.

From: Managua, AFP.
Date: 26 Apr 2003
Time: 20:06:56
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Estados Unidos avaló ayer las concesiones otorgadas por Nicaragua a empresas estadounidenses para la exploración petrolera en aguas territoriales del Mar Caribe, a las que Colombia se opone, según fuentes diplomáticas. Estados Unidos “no toma parte en la disputa de aguas territoriales” en el Mar Caribe entre Colombia y Nicaragua, afirmó la Embajadora estadounidense en Managua, Barbara Moore, que sin embargo estimó que las áreas concedidas a compañías estadounidenses son nicaragüenses. “Tenemos entendido que las licitaciones que están considerando las compañías estadounidenses están de este lado de las aguas en disputa (oeste del meridiano 82), así que están dentro de aguas territoriales nicaragüenses”, dijo Moore a la prensa tras un acto oficial. Moore descartó hacer sugerencias a las empresas estadounidenses de abstenerse de participar en las licitaciones, porque “están licitando zonas que no están dentro de las aguas en disputa, por eso no tiene caso hacer un llamado”. El Canciller Norman Caldera minimizó las advertencias colombianas de emplear la fuerza. Lo que el presidente Uribe dijo “es que no van a permitir exploraciones en aguas colombianas, pero como nadie está haciendo exploración en aguas colombianas sino en nicaragüenses, entonces no hay conflicto”, afirmó. Caldera dijo que se han efectuado reuniones con las autoridades de Colombia para explicarles sobre las áreas que Nicaragua está licitando en el Mar Caribe. Nicaragua hará público la próxima semana el nombre de las empresas ganadoras de la licitación para la búsqueda de petróleo en un área de 150.907 km2 en tierra firme y en su plataforma marítima del Pacífico y el Caribe. Colombia asegura que sus fronteras marítimas en el Mar Caribe están al este del meridiano 82, lo que fue reconocido por Honduras en 1999 mediante el Tratado Ramírez López que Managua desconoce porque, asegura, le cercena 130.000 km2 de su plataforma continental en el mar Caribe. ~Tomado de:El Heraldo-Nacionales.Barranquilla, Sábado 26 de Abril de 2003.