GENET archive


6-Genetech §§: BIOSAFETY - NGO statement to Miami Group

-------------------------- GENET-news ---------------------------

TITLE:  NGO biosafety statement to Miami Group official delegates
SOURCE: GENET, attending ExCOP1 in Montreal
        by Bob Phelps, Australian GeneEthics Network
DATE:   January 25, 2000

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Biosafety statement to Miami Group official delegates

"I am strongly reminded of the parallels between these
negotiations and the US war against the Vietnamese people in the
1960s and 1970s.

Australia was among the US's allies, and one slogan widely used
in support of our involvement in the conflict was 'All the way
with LBJ'. LBJ was Lyndon Baines Johnson the US President who
wanted to make Asia safe for American business interests.

Monsanto's products Agent Orange and Napalm were key in waging
that conflict. They were chemicals used to destroy the Vietnamese
environment and deprive the people of their life support systems.
The Australian Government had no mandate to send our sons and
daughters there and we left before the Yanks.

The current negotiations on Biosafety are also the moral and
intellectual equivalent of planning a war on the environment.
Again it's on behalf of business - a handful of giant
transnational corporations. And again, Australia has no mandate
from its people to follow Big Brother. Ordinary citizens are
turning against the technology and the vested interests which own

For example, a recent survey of 800 Australian farmers (Farm
Weekly 16/9/99) showed 55% of farmers favoured a five year freeze
on the introduction of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs). The
Australian free traders in government and industry organisations
mistakenly believe they can win this but an intensification of
Australian agriculture using gene technology will simply speed up
the destruction of our agricultural environments, making farming
less and less sustainable.

Our agricultural scientists are saying that if we continue to
mine the land by growing food and fibre crops for commodity
exports as we are now, Australia will become a net importer
rather than exporter of primary products within a decade or two.
We got $37 billion this year for primary exports but the deferred
costs of environmental destruction exceed that amount.

The Biosafety protocol must regulate through a common system, the
transfer, handling and use of all LMOs, regardless of the reason
for their transfer. We want a single track system, without a fast
track for food, fibre and animal feed traded as commodities. We
also want liability back on the table, to signal to industry
proponents that the buck must ultimately stop with them when
disaster strikes the environment, public health or economies.

The Vietnam conflict is 25 years past but its impacts are still
very evident. LMO impacts will be forever so you must make the
precautionary rules as strong as they can be. Tell Big Brother
that the environment and health must come ahead of trade. 


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