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Egypt has retracted its support of US legal action against Europe's de facto five-year moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops. 

Last month, the United States announced that it would file a complaint to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against Europe's "illegal, non-science based" trade barrier on GM foods. It stated that Egypt, Canada and Argentina had agreed to join the petition (see US takes legal action on Europe's GM ban), hoping that this would strengthen its case the technology is required to meet the food requirements of the developing world.

But in a letter to the European Union Consumer Organisation dated 27 May, Egypt’s ambassador to the European Union, Soliman Awaad, said that “Egypt has decided not to become party to the motion”.

Hussein Mansour, agriculture counsel at the Egyptian embassy in Washington, said that "from the scientific point of view, we are with the United States, but in terms of filing a case, I am not sure if GM food is dangerous."

This latest move by Egypt represents a significant blow to the Bush administration’s campaign to encourage other governments to reject Europe's reluctance to accept GM crops.

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