A number of European Union member states want stricter labelling and traceability rules in place before a ban on approvals for new strains of genetically modified (GM) crops can be lifted, EU officials said. Talks with government representatives on Tuesday focused on technical issues and did not discuss whether members were ready to restart the approvals process, frozen since mid-1998, Beate Gminder, spokeswoman for EU Health Commissioner David Byrne, said. Gminder said the Commission would deal with the political aspects of the moratorium at a meeting of environment ministers at the end of October. She said the Commission was committed to finding a solution to the ban since, without any legal basis, it left the Commission open to criticism from trading partners. "The moratorium has no legal basis and the Commission has addressed this situation in its various proposals because it leaves the EU open to criticism for constantly moving the goal posts," Gminder told Reuters. France has led a group of six member states pushing for tighter rules on labelling and traceability until it was ready to lift the moratorium on new GM clearances. The Commission has suggested that its proposals, which have not yet been agreed by member states, could be used to legally bind biotech firms now as a way to restart approvals. It remains unclear, EU diplomats say, whether those countries demanding the tighter rules will want to wait for their full adoption before agreeing to end the moratorium.