6:56 AM Sep 28, 1994


Geneva 28 Sep (TWN) -- The United States appears to be manoeuvring to ensure that countries do not adopt standards and technical specifications that would require genetically engineered food and food products to be clearly identified.

The US is reported to be planning to make these proposals at a key meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the joint UN/WHO organisation that sets food safety standards for the GATT.

Under the new WTO and its agriculture agreements among others, the Codex Alimentarius standards will by and large prevail.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is holding a meeting in Ottawa, Canada October 24-28 to propose guidelines for labelling of all genetically engineered foods. It is expected to be attended by scores of member nations of the body are expected to attend this meeting.

The United States and its TNCs are in the forefront of the push to introduce such genetically engineered products for sale, and have been opposed in a variety of fora to issues of biosafety involved or the use of precautionary principles.

The attempts of some to introduce such products have met with consumer resistance and boycotts in the United States where the products themselves and users of such products including some fast food chains have had to face this consumer resistance from environmental groups.

At the Ottawa meeting the US is expected to oppose any Codex sanction for labelling genetically engineered products, as distinguished from products produced through other processes.

The major impetus for the Codus Alimentarius move comes from the US corporations anxious to push Bovine Growth Hormone and other genetically engineered food products on to the global markets.

The Clinton administration, though it cloaked itself in 'green colours' before the elections, has been ambivalent or even as vehement as its predecessors in trying to block or prevent in this and other fora (like bio-safety convention) adoption of biosafety standards and protocols.

If the US has its way, it will be a boon to the world Transnational chemical, pharmaceutical, food, grain and biotech industries whoa re raring to grab a global market.

For, it will prevent consumers from making an informed choice.

Non-Governmental groups like the Washington-based Foundation on Economic Trends and the Pure Food Campaign have launched a coordinated global response of the consumers and NGO community over the Codex/GATT effort on biotech food.

According to Jeremy Rifkin of the Foundation on Economic Trends and the Pure Food Campaign who are coordinating a global campaigning are planning to hold demonstrations at the Ottawa meet to focus public concerns.