BRUSSELS (AP) — A European Union committee has approved rules that would allow the import of animal feed contaminated with small traces of genetically modified crops.

The EU Commission and Parliament are expected to accept the decision later this year, which would change the bloc's attitude toward biotech food.

Tuesday's decision by a panel of experts from the 27 EU countries could be a breakthrough for such major exporters such as the United States, Brazil and Argentina. It was immediately welcomed by the European feed industry and condemned by environmental groups.

For several years, the EU has been engaged in a political dispute about whether to continue the bloc's full zero-tolerance policy or to set a safety standard allowing 0.1 percent contamination of animal feed with genetically modified crops.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.