GENET archive


9-Misc: APEC conference prepares countries for high-level policy dialogue on agricultural biotechnology and biosafety negotiations

                                 PART I
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SOURCE: Philippine Headline News Online, by Reinir C. Padua
DATE:   18 Jan 2006

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MAKATI CITY, January 18, 2006 (MALAYA) COMPLIANCE with the Cartagena
Biosafety Protocol to the Convention of Biological Diversity will
increase the cost of imported food and feeds, a study of the
International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council (IFATPC) said

The study said developing countries would be particularly affected and
compliance with the protocol could eventually defeat the role of
biotechnology in helping address health and food supply problems,
especially in poor countries.

The biosafety protocol regulates all trans-boundary movements of living
modified organisms (LMOs), including LMOs intended for introduction into
the environment (seeds); LMOs intended for contained use (research);
LMOs intended for food, feed and processing (oil, meal, ingredients, biofuel).

"If you want genetically modified organism-free imports, suppliers must
institute procedures which will result in additional costs," said Raul
Montemayor, a member of the IFATPC, in a lecture during the three-day
Biosafety Options for APEC Economies held in Makati City.

Among the testing protocols that will be required are the assessment
whether a cargo contains LMOs; determining whether specific LMO
varieties are present; and knowing the percentage of each LMO variety in
the cargo.

A study on the annual cost of testing for LMOs in US and Argentine maize
export, for example, revealed that for each sample, the additional cost
to determine if it the shipment contains LMOs would amount to $936,650.
The identification of the LMOs would cost $2,342,900, while determining
the quantity of the LMOs would require $4,356,900.

Montemayor said 130 countries have ratified the protocol but major
exporters like Argentina, Australia, Canada and the United States, have
not. He said the Philippines has yet to ratify the protocol.

Of the world's major commodity exporters, only Brazil has ratified the

"The importers might pass it (the additional cost) on to farmers or
consumers, but in the end, the consumers will be the ones who will bear
the brunt. It cannot be avoided because you will have to protect your
biodiversity," he said.

                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Biosafety pact will cost Philippine consumers
SOURCE: Business World Philippines, by Beverly T. Natividad
        posted by Checkbiotech, Switzerland
DATE:   18 Jan 2006

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Biosafety pact will cost Philippine consumers

The country's ratification of an international agreement regulating
trans-boundary shipments of genetically modified agricultural products
will cost both farmers and consumers, said international consultants for
agricultural trade.

In a presentation to the conference on Biosafety Policy Options for the
Asia Pacific Economic Council (APEC) Economies, Raul Montemayor, a
consultant for the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy
Council, said that the country's expected ratification of the 2003
Cartagena Protocol will require it to meet new agricultural trade
standards and testing protocols, which entail cost.

The biosafety protocol on commodity trade provided under the Cartagena
Protocol will require testing of cargoes for Living Modified Organisms
(LMOs) or unprocessed genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Stemming
from the mother agreement - the Convention on Biological Diversity - it
seeks to protect countries from possible environmental backlashes of the
entry of GMOs.

Mr. Montemayor explained that countries which want to maintain a GMO-
free environment must abide by the standards of the Protocol and install
system changes with, for example, its transport handling of products.

"The cost of doing these system changes will be borne by the importers
and will eventually be passed on to consumers or it may be passed on to
farmers. This will be the cost of protecting the local environment, so
we can't help but apply the costs if we accede to the agreement," said
Mr. Montemayor.

He said a case study on US and Argentine maize exports showed the cost
to identify and quantify LMO presence in about 3,500 cargoes annually
amounts to about $7 million using a one-sample-per-cargo-test. A testing
protocol using 20 samples per cargo will raise costs to as much as $152
million annually.

                                 PART III
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TITLE:  APEC gears up for next policy dialogue
SOURCE: Philippine News Agency / The Mindanao Daily Mirror, Philippines
DATE:   20 Jan 2006

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APEC gears up for next policy dialogue

MANILA (PNA) - The Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) member-
countries are now gearing up for a high-level policy dialogue on
agricultural biotechnology (HLPDAB) in Ha Noi, Vietnam next month
following the conclusion of the Conference on Biosafety Policy Options
for APEC Economies held at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel from January 16-18.
The Philippines, which hosted the three-day conference together with the
United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is
optimistic that the conference will strengthen the APEC member-countries
resolve to adopt a high standard of biosafety regulation.

Stephen Yarrow, a director of Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said the
conference exceeded expectations and hailed the Philippine government
for hosting the event.

He said that in conclusion, APEC Economies learned from the experiences
of others and more importantly, learned of the importance of sharing the
technology, experience, as well as the responsibility of making such
technology in agriculture.

?With biotechnology and adopting the products of biotechnology, we have
to be responsible. We also need to keep in mind that agricultural
products move around the world. Now we have the biotechnology versions
of these products so we have to be responsible. We need to be careful in
importing for our country but we have to respect the exporters point of
view, he said.

Participants to the conference, mostly policy makers, regulators and
experts from different APEC member-countries, agreed that the Cartagena
Protocol on Biosafety should remain as a standing item for discussion at
the next few meetings.

The conference is in preparation for the 5th HLPDAB that will be held in
Ha Noi, Viet Nam, on February 26-27. One of the main issues for discus-
sion will include the implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on
Biosafety and biotechnology policy development, implementation and

Yarrow said that socio-economic factors are a reality and these factors
must be taken into account from a positive, as well as negative point of
view as a consequence of the application of modern biotechnology in

Socio-economic factors, he said, should be handled and must be carefully
considered in the context of science-based risk assessments and the
World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations of individual countries.

Australia's Bill Bowen said the participants were convinced that there's
a need to further study and compare the APEC Economies' obligations
under the WTO and the Cartagena Protocol.

Bowen said the two trade agreements should be harmonized by APEC member-

Dr. Saturnina Halos, a consultant of the Department of Agriculture (DA)
on biotechnology, said there's a need to hold more dialogues to thresh
out issues concerning the different interpretation of the Cartagena
Protocol as compared to the commitment of member-countries under the WTO.

The participants also agreed that there's also a need to carefully weigh
trade impacts to both importing and exporting countries and impacts on
research and technology development investments in coming up with
biosafety regulations noting that imposing such regulation may entail
cost that might exceed or overcome the benefit that genetically modified
crops, food or products of modern biotechnology.

                                 PART IV
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TITLE:  APEC to Continue Rationalizing Biotechnology Regulations
SOURCE: Philippine News Agency / Asia Pulse
DATE:   19 Jan 2006

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APEC to Continue Rationalizing Biotechnology Regulations

MANILA, Jan 19 Asia Pulse - The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
will continue rationalizing regulations on biotechnology-generated
agricultural goods to ensure human and environmental protection as well
as food security.
These were among major consensus formed during a three-day conference
this week at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City when representatives of
APEC economies discussed bio-safety policy options for the agricultural

"We're learning how to best interpret and achieve rational and
harmonized regulations," said Dr. Julian Adams, senior science and
technology adviser of the United States Agency for International
Development (USAID).

USAID and the Department of Agriculture (DA) hosted the January 16 to 18
conference from which highlights of discussions will be presented next
month during APECs meeting in Hanoi.

Adams explained the rationalization process is crucial since this will
enable stakeholders concerned to conduct an in-depth analysis of
economic implications arising from public policies on export and import
of such goods.

To further help rationalize safety regulations, APEC countries vowed to
sustain international cooperation in technology transfer.

These countries also agreed to share experiences in regulating movement
and use of genetically modified (GM) agricultural crops.

APEC is still taking a hard look at regulations across the region as
some sectors continue raising safety concerns associated with
biotechnological interventions.

Such interventions involve genetic modifications to either improve
produce and products or to create new and better ones.

During the summit, delegates agreed on the general assessment that
transgenic crops during the past decade posed no serious threats to both
environment and peoples health.

"There will never be zero risk but the German Academy of Science
concluded last year risk from biotechnology is minimal," Adams said
during a post-conference briefing with reporters.

Canadian International Food Agency Director Dr. Stephen Yarrow agreed
with this conclusion although he said rational regulations are still
necessary since the manner in which biotech goods are used can trigger
more serious risks.

"We all need to be responsible about how these goods are used and to
take into account any potential danger so protective measures must be
established," he stressed.

The matter is urgent as another expert warned during the briefing that
food supply for the next generation will be compromised unless
biotechnological interventions are continuously undertaken.

"Around 2030, each farmer will have to produce 40 percent more of what
their output is now to meet food demand," said Dr. Tantono Subagyo, an
intellectual property and technology transfer consultant of the
Indonesian Intellectual Property Society.

He attributed this to dwindling number of farmers, declining hectarage
of agricultural land worldwide, and ballooning human population which
are all expected to stress agriculture production.

"Output from organic farming is insufficient to meet food demand so we
cant solely rely on this system to feed people," he explained.

Subagyo also said peoples access to affordable and quality food is
limited if production is done through organic farming alone.

"Production of commodities consumed in large quantities like rice must
be opened to biotechnology," he said.

DA Biotechnology Program Director Alice Ilaga, on the other hand, said
the department will continue adapting internationally accepted protocols
in assessing such goods.

She explained this is in line with DA's biosafety thrust which was
formally manifested in its October 2002 Administrative Order 8 covering
relevant measures.

Meanwhile, Gene Technology Regulator Director Dr. Sue Meek from
Australia lauded the Philippines for being one of the first countries in
the region to establish such biosafety measures.

She also clarified during the briefing APEC has yet to set a timetable
for completing its rationalization of regulations.

"Biotechnology is still developing so assessments must be done
continuously," she explained.

Meek is optimistic, however, there will be more coherence in
biotechnology risk management within the region since she said the
structure of risk assessment among APEC countries is becoming more similar.


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