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7-Misc: GP presselease on Biosafety Protocol

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Industrialized countries threaten preservation of biodiversity at 
UN negotiations

Cartagena , Colombia, February 15, 1999 --- Greenpeace today at the 
Biosafety Protocol meeting in Cartagena, Colombia urged the over 175 
countries gathered there to agree on strong rules for genetically 
modified organisms (GMOs) to protect biodiversity. 

"These negotiations are very intense and polarized as the few countries that
export genetically engineered organisms put heavy pressure on 
developing countries," said Greenpeace political advisor Louise Gale. 
"For example, the industrialized world is trying to drop processed 
foods containing GMOs from the Biosafety Protocol. This ould mean 
that any health or environmental problem caused by these foods would 
be dealt with by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which is not the 
appropriate forum." 

Furthermore, the main grain exporting countries, the US, Canada, Australia, 
Argentina and New Zealand, have put forward a proposal which would 
exclude genetically engineered (GE) grains from the Protocol. "This 
would mean that countries will not be able to say no to these so 
called 'agricultural commodities', which make up one of he biggest 
categories of environmental risks in genetic engineering. Even France 
appears to be encouraging the exclusion of GE crops, in contrast to 
its position in the EU."

 Last week the EU rejected two Monsanto GE cottons, Roundup Ready and
 Bt . "We welcome this preliminary decision but without the 
agricultural commodities in the Protocol these kinds of decisions are 
useless, because WTO will overrule them," said Gale. 

The signing of the Biosafety Protocol on Tuesday, February 23 will culminate
 a years-long process, setting the first binding international rules 
on GMOs. The negotiations were initiated under the auspices of the UN 
Convention on Biological Diversity signed in Rio in 1992.

Note to editors: 
Roundup Ready cotton is engineered to withstand high doses of Monsanto's 
herbicide, Roundup. Bt cotton produces its own insecticide.

More information: 

Mika Railo: +57.3.752 77 00
Thomas Schweiger
EU GMO Advisor
Greenpeace International European Unit
37, Rue de la Tourelle
B-1040 Brussels
Tel: +32-2-280 14 00
Fax: +32-2-230 84 13
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