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7-Misc: G8 compromised on GE study by OECD



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TITLE:  Leaders reject GM policing
SOURCE: Guardian, UK, by Ian Black
DATE:   June 21, 1999

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Leaders reject GM policing

Leaders of the G7 industrial nations and Russia in Cologne failed
to agree a French plan for a body to police world food standards,
but compromised by setting up global scientific working groups to
review genetic modification questions. Tony Blair said at the end
of yesterday's summit that he welcomed a decision to "evaluate
evidence properly", saying people needed to know genetic
modification issues were being carefully scrutinised. "Given the
controversy and debate over GM foods I think this is a worthwhile
thing to do," he said. "The more people see what's happening
around the world the better."

France's proposal for a world regulator did not win the support
of the United States, where agrochemical conglomerates such as
Monstanto and Novartis are based. But the summit directed the
Organisation on Economic Cooperation and Development to
"undertake a study of the implications of biotechnology and other
aspects of food safety." Lobbyists warn that the latest
scientific developments are creating a future of dependency on GM
crops before effective international safety measures can be put
in place. The French president, Jacques Chirac, initially called
for the creation of an "international scientific high council",
apparently supported by Britain, Germany, Italy and the European
Commission.

On Radio France International on Saturday, Mr Chirac said it was
important for "everyone to be able to feed themselves in complete
confidence - which underlines the importance of a problem which
has become a vital one today, that of food safety." "It is a
concern which requires serious attention at national level, which
without doubt requires an organisational effort at European
level, but which also requires an organisational effort at world
level," he added. France was recently hit by two food safety
scares, and it now has a partial ban on imports of Belgian animal
products following concerns over dioxin contamination. French
officials said that Mr Blair quickly backed Mr Chirac's proposal,
but during the course of the weekend the idea was watered down.
The less ambitious result - OECD study groups - are expected to
report by next year's conference in Japan.



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