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US presses Europe on farm trade issues

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BRUSSELS (AP) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in Europe to make the U.S. case on disputed issues in farm trade, a perennial hot-button topic in Trans-Atlantic relations.

The Obama administration and European Union are negotiating a new trade and investment agreement, and Vilsack said Tuesday it’s hard to imagine any deal being approved by the U.S. or EU that doesn’t include agriculture.

The U.S. wants European authorities to allow genetically modified crops and food processing techniques, including the use of chlorinated rinses to process poultry carcasses. Vilsack said that if “sound science” shows such practices to be safe, European consumers should have the option of purchasing the food that results. EU officials and European consumer groups are much less enthusiastic.

On Tuesday afternoon, Vilsack met with EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos.