The actual report is available as a pdf: The EU-U.S. Biotechnology Consultative Forum: Final Report (Dec 00)

Here's some press coverage - urls + AP report below:

Panel Backs Stronger Rules for Some Food
(New York Times, ANDREW POLLACK, 18 Dec 00)

A blue-ribbon biotechnology committee formed by the United States and the European Union is expected to recommend that Washington strengthen regulation of genetically modified foods and move toward mandatory labeling, according to some panel members.

U.S.-E.U. Panel Urges Review of Biotech Foods
(Reuters, Julie Vorman, 18 Dec 00)

A panel of American and European Union biotech experts urged the U.S. government on Monday to adopt stricter regulations requiring new gene-spliced foods to win government approval before they can be sold and also to require that such food be clearly labeled.

Panel Wants Tighter Biotech Control

A committee formed by the United States and the European Union recommended tighter controls Monday on genetically engineered foods, including mandatory labeling of products with biotech ingredients.

ASSOCIATED PRESS,  WASHINGTON (AP) -- A biotechnology committee formed by the United States and the European Union recommended new rules for genetically engineered foods and mandatory labeling for some biotech products.

``Consumers should have the right of informed choice regarding the selection of what they want to consume,'' said the 20-member panel, which included scientists, farmers, consumer advocates, and industry officials.

The 19-page report, issued Monday, said the United States and Europe should set ``content-based mandatory labeling requirements'' for foods that contain ``novel genetic material,'' a term Europeans use for genetically engineered ingredients.

The United States currently does not require the labeling of products with gene-altered ingredients, based on the premise that they are essentially the same as conventionally bred crops. Some panel members believe the report's language is vague enough to support the U.S. position.

Agricultural biotechnology ``holds the potential to provide new tools for farmers in developing countries to increase yields, produce crops resistant to drought, salinity, pests and diseases, and produce new crop products of greater nutritional value,'' said the panel's report.

But it also said new biotech products should not be allowed on the market until they have gone through a mandatory government approval process.

The report ``basically says that what we are doing right now is not enough,'' said panel member Carol Tucker Foreman, director of the Consumer Federation of America's Food Policy Institute.

Under the report's recommendation, any foods with detectable traces of genetically engineered crops should be labeled, she said.

But another panel member, Missouri farmer Ryland Utlaut, said the report could be read to support existing U.S. policy on labeling.

``If we're not changing the content of the food or putting anything new in it, it is saying that we do not have to label,'' he said.

Although the Clinton administration agreed to set up the committee, it has resisted pressure from environmentalists and consumer advocacy groups to require mandatory labeling of biotech food.

This spring, the Food and Drug Administration proposed requiring biotech companies to consult with the agency before bringing new products onto the market, something the industry now does voluntarily. But the FDA said mandatory labeling was not warranted.

The agency instead said it would develop guidelines for food makers to use for voluntarily labeling foods as biotech or biotech-free.

The agency has yet to release rules for the mandatory notification process or voluntary labeling. An FDA spokeswoman declined comment on the report.

Critics of the industry hope the latest report will pressure the incoming Bush administration to reconsider FDA's position.

But industry supporters portrayed the report as compatible with the FDA's proposals.

``It makes us wonder that if this is something that the U.S. and Europe can come to agreement on then why are we having so much trouble with approvals and trading of crops that have been improved through biotechnology,'' said Michael Phillips, who follows agricultural issues for the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

The European Union has a moratorium on approval of new biotech crops.