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BIOSAFETY: GREENPEACE CALLS FOR NATIONAL IMPORT BANS



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Greenpeace International Press Release


GREENPEACE CALLS FOR NATIONAL IMPORT BANS AS INTERNATIONAL TALKS ON TRADE
IN GENETIC FOOD FAILS TO AGREE ON SAFEGUARDS

Cartagena, Colombia, February 24, 1999 --- Greenpeace today called on
national governments to ban all imports of genetically engineered (GE)
crops, after the United States torpedoed international talks on trade
safeguards in Cartagena Columbia, early today.

The talks, involving more than 135 countries, collapsed at 2 am Wednesday
after ten days and nights of negotiation over a series of safeguards on the
world trade of GE crops,  such as Monsanto's herbicide resistant soya bean.
The safeguards included requirements that exporting nations inform
importing countries if shipments contained genetically modified organisms
(GMO).

Throughout the tense negotiations, the US opposed a strong Protocol even
though it is not a party to the final agreement and can not sign it.
Outside the last day's session, delegates from two EU countries stated that
US President Bill Clinton had personally called their governments the
previous night, in an effort to pressure them to agree to weak standards.

The so-called Miami group of grain exporting nations, led by the US and
consisting of Canada, Argentina, Australia, Chile and Uruguay had insisted
on the exclusion from the regulations of all commodity crops accounting for
more than 90% of genetically modified organisms presently traded and
refused any compromise with the rest of the world.

"The US and their Miami group came here to do the bidding of the genetic
engineering industry by sabotaging any real attempt to regulate this
dangerous technology," said Louise Gale, Greenpeace political advisor.

"We are pleased that by not signing a weak agreement, the rest of the world
did not give  in to the enormous pressure from the U.S. This gives us some
hope that negotiations to protect the world's plant and animal species from
genetic pollution, will continue and be successful in the future."

The breakdown of the Biosafety Protocol negotiations comes at a time when
more consumers are refusing to be forced fed GMOs and more governments are
questioning the safety of these products.

"A small group of grain exporting nations and transnational genetic
engineering companies are trying to force feed their risky products to the
rest of the world and blackmail nations presently dependent on food
imports," said Gale. In addition to a global ban, Greenpeace also urged
responsible nations to implement regional and multi-lateral agreements to
protect biodiversity from the hazards of GMOs.

"Obviously there is only one language the US and the genetic engineering
industry talks and understands: Markets and money. We are confident that
consumers, regulators and farmers all over the world will give them the
answer in this very same language." concluded Gale.

For more information: Greenpeace delegation in Cartagena, +57.3.752 77 00 /
752 85 53 / 735 8050, Jon Walter, Greenpeace International press desk in
Amsterdam, +31.20.5249 547 Benny Haerlin, Greenpeace International GE
coordinator: +49 30 308899-12



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