EU wins WTO extension to end GMO bans

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GENEVA, Nov 22 (Reuters) The European Union has won an extension until the middle of January to end its ban on imports of genetically modified (GMO) food, trade officials said on Thursday.

The European Union now has until Jan. 11 to comply with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling from last November in the case which pitted the EU against the United States and other biotech crop producers.

''The European Commission can confirm that the deadline has been extended to Jan. 11,'' a spokesman for the European Union's WTO mission said.

It had been due to lift the ban by Nov. 21 after losing a dispute at the WTO to the United States, Argentina and Canada.

Many European consumers regard genetically modified products, dubbed ''Frankenfoods'' in the media, with suspicion.

Brussels has had difficulty in implementing the WTO ruling because some of its member states are operating their own bans.

Last month the EU failed to agree whether to order Austria to lift its ban on two genetically modified (GMO) maize types made by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto and German drugs and chemicals group Bayer respectively.

The case will be closely followed by other biotech companies such as U.S. chemical groups Du Pont and Dow Chemical and Swiss agrochemicals group Syngenta.

REUTERS BJR GC1748

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