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Health and Consumer Protection

Press releases

Brussels, 8 October 2001

Commissioner Byrne visits the US to discuss Biotechnology and Public Health issues

David Byrne, European Commissioner for Consumer and Health Protection is on an official visit to the United States from 7 to 12 October.

He will outline to the US administration the package of draft legislation proposed by the European Commission in July this year to update EU rules on genetically modified organisms. The proposals are currently examined by the EU's legislative decision-making bodies, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers of EU Member States. They respond to requests made by several Member States and the European Parliament as a pre-requisite to lifting the current standstill on approving GMOs in Europe. Mr Byrne will outline to the US partners the next steps in addressing this de facto moratorium with a view to lifting it.

Commissioner Byrne starts his programme in Washington today with an address to The European Institute, a public policy discussion forum for transatlantic issues where he will address US government and corporate decision-makers and policy analysts. He will then see a group of food and agriculture executives representing the Grocery Manufacturers of America, the largest association of companies marketing food, beverages and consumer products in the US. In the evening he will be meeting with Timothy Muris, the new Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Rockwell Schnabel, recently nominated US Ambassador to the EU, and Ms. Carol Tucker Foreman who is the Director of the Food Policy Institute of the Consumer Federation of America.

On Tuesday Mr Byrne is scheduled to meet Ambassador Robert Zoellick (USTR), Senators Tom Harkin (Chairman) and Richard Luger (Minority Leader) of the Agriculture Committee of the Senate and Congressmen Larry Combest (chairman) and Charles Stenholm (Minority Leader) of the Agriculture Committee of the House of Representatives. He will also see Mozelle Thompson, Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on protection of economic and juridical interests of consumers. In the evening Mr Byrne will address a dinner of the Congressional Economic Leadership Institute (CELI).

On Wednesday the schedules foresees a meeting with Ann Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture, Alan Larson, Undersecretary for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs (US State Department) and with Gary Edson, Deputy Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs and Deputy National Security Advisor who is chairing the Inter-agency Group on Biotechnology.

Thursday Mr Byrne will visit the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, meeting its Director Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan and his staff to discuss topical public health issues such as activities to prevent and control the spread of communicable diseases and bio-terrorism.

David Byrne will be at the National Press Club for a press conference on Tuesday, 9 October, 12.45 local time for a short presentation on "A European Approach to Food Safety and GMOs" and to answer questions of the Washington press corps.

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