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USA: US leaders fear EU legal dispute over organic wine proposal

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Leading US wine figures have warned that current proposals by the US government to tamper with organic wine legislation will spark off an international row, culminating in a GATT suit by the EU against the US. The warnings refer to a proposal under the National Organic Program in the US to ban the term "made with organically grown grapes" and the use of sulphur dioxide in any wine with the word "organic" on the label. US organic winemakers are petitioning the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) claiming that it is almost impossible to make any quality wine without the use of sulphur dioxide, which acts as an anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial agent promoting stability and longevity in wine. As almost all European organic winemakers use sulphur dioxide in their winemaking process most European organic brands would be banned from trading in the growing US wine market. Paul Chatrand of US organic company Chatrand Imports told just-drinks.com: "I have worked many years in the US to establish production rules that would harmonise with other worldwide standards. These efforts would be seriously jeopardised by the proposed rule. "Foreign producers would lose their US market for organic wine from these most restrictive rules, that could be grounds for a GATT suit in the future. Our own industry would be hampered by regulations in conflict with those of other producing nations. The growing market for US organic wines will suffer from this potential trade conflict." Chris Brook-Carter


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