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PRESS RELEASE
May 24, 2003

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LET’S CLEAR THE AIR ON BIOTECH SAYS EURO FARM LEADER

A former president of the European Parliament has welcomed the US decision to launch a World Trade Organisation case against the European Union’s ban on new genetically modified crops.

Lord Henry Plumb a former President of the National Farmers Union and one of 38 agricultural leaders from industrialised, developing and least-developed countries who together make up the International Council for Food and Agricultural Trade Policy said that the case provided a welcome opportunity for the vast scientific evidence supporting biotechnology to prevail in what has been a highly emotional debate in Europe.

"Politicians and consumers should be made aware of the evidence confirming the safety of biotechnology," he said. "The anti-biotech campaigners must not be allowed to reiterate unsupported arguments and rekindle unwarranted consumer fears."

Lord Plumb, who chaired the European Parliament’s committee overseeing relations with developing countries, said the need for biotechnology in poor countries is clear. "New technology can help these countries overcome environmental challenges, including drought and salinity, and fight the diseases and pests such as viruses and worms which destroy their crops," he said.

But the benefits of biotechnology are not confined to developing countries. "Farmers and consumers in Britain and Europe can benefit from reductions in crop pests, a diminution of the need for farm chemical use and enhanced nutritional value from food," he said. "For example, biotechnology can protect wheat—one of Europe’s major crops-- against viruses, funguses and toxins that can destroy harvests and make wheat unfit for food."

Lord Plumb challenged those who say the US case will deny European consumers and farmers the opportunity to use biotech products. "It is the European ban on genetically modified foods which is keeping advanced products out of the hands of farmers and consumers – and that is denying the essential freedom of consumer choice," he added.

Ends

NOTES TO EDITORS

This release reflects the opinions of Henry Plumb. It does not necessarily reflect the views of other individual members of the IPC, nor of the IPC as an organization. IPC membership includes high-ranking government officials, farm leaders, agribusiness executives and agricultural trade policy experts from around the world and throughout the food chain to build consensus on practical solutions to food and agricultural trade problems. Its 38 independent members are chosen to ensure the Council’s credible and impartial approach. For more information see: www.agritrade.org

For further press information, please contact:

Ann Tutwiler,

or

 Andrew Kendall,
Chief Executive, Kendalls,
IPC 132 Ebury Street,
1616 P St. NW, Suite 100 London,
Washington, DC 20036 SW1W 9QQ,
USA United Kingdom.
Tel: +01 202 328 5001 Tel: +44 20 7824 8681
Fax: +01 202 328 5133 Fax: +44 20 7730 1390
Email: tutwiler@agritrade.org Email: andrew.kendall@kendallscom.co.uk

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