Attempts by the United States administration to challenge the EU's five-year-old moratorium on approval of new genetically modified crops before the World Trade Organisation suffered a setback last week when Egypt withdrew its support.
On 13 May the United States said that it would be joined by Argentina, Canada and Egypt in filing a World Trade Organisation (WTO) case against Europe over "its illegal five-year moratorium on approving agricultural biotech products ". But in a letter last week to the EU, the Egyptian Ambassador wrote that the country had taken its decision because it recognises "the need to preserve adequate and effective consumer and environmental protection".
The Egyptian move will do little to help the US in its desire to encourage Europe to trade in genetically modified crops and foods - impacted by a five-year moratorium which means no new GM crops have been accepted onto the European marketplace since 1998. But it was welcomed by environmental campaigners.
Friends of the Earth Europe's GM campaigner Geert Ritsema said: "We're delighted that Egypt has withdrawn from this US attempt to force GM food and crops into Europe. Countries should be allowed to choose what they eat and what they grow in their fields. The United States should withdraw its WTO challenge, and stop trying to bully Europe over GMOs."