File - A cheesemonger puts pieces of Greece's trademark feta cheese in a bag for a customer in central Athens November 21, 2007. REUTERS/JOHN KOLESIDIS
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European Union plans to seal the world's largest free trade deal with the United States are threatened by intractable differences over food names, none more so than the right of cheese-makers to use the term "feta".At the same time as eurozone leaders are ordering Greece to balance its budget and liberalize its product markets, EU trade negotiators are fighting to defend its signature cheese.EU member states will have to approve any deal and will need food name protection as compensation for EU farmers facing a flood of U.S. beef and pork imports.U.S. agricultural and trade experts generally recognize the region-specific terms such as "Gouda Holland" or "Camembert de Normandie," meaning that U.S. producers can still make and name their own gouda and camembert cheeses.However, they argue that the European Union has gone too far by including the likes of gorgonzola and feta – terms they say are not region-specific but generic like cheddar or mozzarella, which do not have GI status.Even before an EU-U.S. free trade deal, Castaneda says U.S. businesses are already affected in countries like South Korea, whose trade accord with Europe includes GI protection.
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