GENET archive


8-Misc: Rabobank launches code of conduct

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Last week, Rabobankgroep Netherlands announced a code of conduct for
investments in genetic engineering. The code was developed after wide
consultation of internal and external experts.

This step was widely reported in the national media. Most of the criteria
are in line with naational and EU legislation. Additional is the position of
the bank on cloning or genetic modification of humans.

Another additional point is in criteria 1 and 2, introducing an assessment
of the need/benefit and the availability of alternatives. We'll have to wait
and see how the bank will apply these criteria in practical cases. They
promise to assess this at regular intervals.

Originally, Rabobank is a cooperative bank with activities focusing on
agriculture and agri business. The bank has 560,000 members and 7 million
customers, and has an annual turn over of EURO 6.8 billion (1999). The sum
of private loans amounts 160.5 billion EURO.

Code of Conduct regarding Genetic Modification
(Source: Klick on 'Genetische modificatie' under
the headline "Nieuw op de site' on the home page and you'll find a
possibility to get an English version).

The Rabobank Group recognizes that genetic modification technology is a
major factor in helping to solve social problems in the fields of food
security and public health, sustainable food production, and renewable raw
materials and energy sources. 
The Rabobank Group believes that the cautious application of genetic
modification technology and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
is necessary to overcome dangers to health, nature and the environment, but
it also respects the concerns within society about the possible adverse
effects of this technology. The Group endorses consumers' freedom to choose
between genetically modified and genetically unmodified food products, and
it upholds the freedom of choice for primary producers in the agricultural
and horticultural sectors.
When financing, participating in or being involved in activities which use
GMOs and apply genetic modification technology, the Rabobank Group takes
existing laws and regulations as its guideline. It will also apply the
precautionary principle, under which the benefits and possible risks of the
technology are carefully weighed against each other, in order to give
progress and innovation a chance.

The Rabobank Group will subject the financing of and participation in firms
and activities which use GMOs or apply genetic modification technology to
the following critical considerations:

1.	It yields added value for society and for users.

2.	There are no better alternatives.

3.	The risk on the basis of scientific understanding is acceptable.

4.	Close attention is paid to animal welfare and protection and to the
implications for people, nature and the environment.

5.	Specific laws and regulations are complied with.

6.	The concerns and interests of society are carefully considered, and
there is open communication with society.

The Rabobank Group will not finance or become involved in the genetic
modification and cloning of people. In the case of animals it applies the
'no, unless' principle, and in the case of plants and microorganisms it
applies the 'yes, provided' principle.

The Rabobank Group sets great store by open communication with social
groups, and where necessary and possible it will stimulate and support the
public debate.

The Rabobank Group will reassess its position on genetic modification
technology and GMOs at regular intervals in the light of new insights and

Huib de Vriend
stichting Consument en Biotechnologie
Postbus 1000
2500 BA Den Haag
The Netherlands
phone: +31 70 44 54 498
fax: +31 70 44 54 592