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7-Business: Rabobank publishes code of conduct regarding genetic modification

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TITLE:  A) Rabobank group publishes code of conduct regarding genetic
        B) Agricultural bank releases guidelines for genetically
           modified food
        C) Code of conduct regarding genetic modification
SOURCE: A + C) Rabobank,
        B) The Associated Press, edited and sent by Agnet, Canada
DATE:   A + B) August 25, 2000
        C) August 10, 2000

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A) Rabobank group publishes code of conduct regarding genetic 

Socially responsible development of genetic modification technology 
Rabobank Group has developed its own code of conduct for issues 
relating to genetic modification. This code of conduct provides 
guidance on a global basis for funding decisions by the Rabobank 
Group in the field of genetic modification. By publishing this code 
of conduct, Rabobank Group wants to set out clearly its stance on 
genetic modification for all interested parties.

"Genetic modification is gradually entering into our daily life, and 
society is right to be concerned about its benefits and its risks", 
says Hans Smits, chairman of the Executive Board of Rabobank 
Nederland. "Owing to our position as a financier of the agricultural 
sector in the Netherlands and as a leading international food and 
agribusiness bank, we are increasingly faced with issues relating to 
genetic modification technology. Therefore, it is only natural for 
Rabobank Group to adopt a clear stance on this sensitive issue."

The code of conduct, which was developed in consultation with outside 
experts, is underpinned by the following premises. Rabobank does not 
want to be involved as a provider of funds in the genetic 
modification of human life. The bank will, in principle, not finance 
genetic modification of animals either, unless the risks are 
acceptable from a scientific point of view and there is broad support 
for it in society. Rabobank's approach to genetic modification of 
plants is based on the principle "yes, provided". This means that the 
bank will provide funds if society's interest warrants it and 
scientists consider the risks acceptable.

In financing activities in the field of genetic modification, 
Rabobank will give special consideration to preserving the safety of 
nature and the environment, and human and animal health. In addition, 
freedom of choice is an important issue for Rabobank. Consumers must 
have a choice as to whether they do or do not wish to consume 
genetically modified food. Likewise, producers, especially in the 
primary sector, need to be able to choose whether or not they wish to 
use genetically modified material. Rabobank also attaches great 
importance to proper communication between the producers of 
genetically modified products and the customers for these products, 
particularly the consumers. In Rabobank's view, genetic modification 
should not be used if better alternatives are available.


B) Agricultural bank releases guidelines for genetically modified food

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Rabobank, one of the world’s largest 
agricultural lenders, was cited as releasing guidelines Friday for 
financing projects that involve genetically manipulated foods. 
"Genetic manipulation is gradually becoming part of our lives. 
Society is rightly questioning the value and the risks," said 
management board chairman Hans Smits. "We are increasingly confronted 
with these issues. The need is therefore self-evident that Rabobank 
express itself clearly with regard to this socially sensitive issue." 
The bank, which has 30 billion euros (dlrs 27 billion) worth of 
agribusiness loans, said it was the first financial institution to 
release such a code. A statement said the bank’s approach to genetic 
modification of plants and animals would follow what it called the 
"yes, provided ... ," principle. "The bank will provide funds if 
society’s interest warrants it and scientists consider the risks 
acceptable," a bank statement said. The bank said consumers and food 
producers should always be told whether they are eating or growing 
genetically modified food, and be given a non-GM choice. The 
statement rejected any genetic manipulation of humans.


C) Code of conduct regarding genetic modification
                 Rabobank Group

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 

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:
- It yields added value for society and for users.
- There are no better alternatives.
- The risk on the basis of scientific understanding is acceptable.
- Close attention is paid to animal welfare and protection and to the 
  implications for people, nature and the environment.
- Specific laws and regulations are complied with.
- 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 knowledge.

Rabobank Nederland, Corporate Communications
10 August 2000


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