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US Corn Growers Worry About Continued EU Resistance to Frankenfoods

US Corn Growers Worry About Continued EU Resistance
to Frankenfoods

Wednesday June 13 5:22 PM ET

Biotech Farmers Respect Consumers

By JONATHAN FOWLER, Associated Press Writer

GENEVA (AP) - Biotech-engineered foods can be good, but U.S. farmers must
allay the fears of European consumers if they want to build exports to the
valuable market, a growers' association said Wednesday.

``U.S. farmers have plenty of confidence in biotech,'' said Fred Yoder, who
farms in Plain City, Ohio. ``But we have to be sensitive to what the markets
tell us to do.''

Yoder is chairman of the biotechnology working group of the National Corn
Growers Association. The association sent a delegation to Europe to meet
officials and farm lobbyists - and learn about consumer concerns there.

``We're out of the era where farmers can produce what they like and not
worry about where it goes,'' said Richard Tolman, Vice President of the
association.

Genetic engineering in agriculture involves splicing a gene from one
organism, such as a bacterium, into a plant or animal to confer certain
traits in crops, such as drought tolerance or insect resistance. The
practice is growing in the United States, but farm exports to Europe have
encountered resistance because of the unpopularity of genetically altered
foods among environmental activists and ordinary consumers.

A survey cited by the European Union (news - web sites) last year found that
a majority of Europeans see biotech products as a health hazard, despite
assurances from producers.

Even in Britain, where the government has been more enthusiastic about the
potential of genetically modified goods, supermarket chains have pulled
biotech products from their shelves because of consumer concerns. British
newspapers have called them ``Frankenstein Foods.''

New legislation passed by the 15-nation bloc in March lifted a ban on
licensing genetically modified products, but producers still have to give
European buyers an incentive to buy.

EU nations still have 15 months to implement the law, and the moratorium
stays in place until the law is ratified. However, each country retains the
right to approve new biotech products, making it possible for individual
governments to keep the ban in effect.

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