GENET archive


6-Regulation: Cartagena Protocol negotiations - articles from Agência Brasil

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  NGOs back Brazil's decision to defend the use of ''contains'' on
        LMO labels
SOURCE: Agência Brasil, by Lúcia Nórcio
        translated by David Silberstein
DATE:   20 Mar 2006

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NGOs back Brazil's decision to defend the use of ''contains'' on LMO labels

Curitiba - On Saturday (18), the civil society organizations that
participated in the Brazilian Forum of NGOs and Social Movements for the
Environment and Development issued a document manifesting support for the
decision by the Brazilian government to defend the use of the term
"contains" to identify products containing living genetically modified

The Forum took place in Curitiba concomitantly with the 3rd Meeting of
the Parties to the Cartagena Biosecurity Protocol (MOP-3). According to
the participants, biosecurity took center stage in the debates, restoring
the objectives of the Cartagena Protocol.

In their view, the position taken by president Lula represents a big
advance in relation to the position defended a year ago at the MOP-2, in
Montreal, when Brazil was in favor of countries' using the expression
"may contain" to label transgenic products.

The shift to "contains" was announced last Monday (13) after a meeting in
Brasília between president Lula, the ministers of Agriculture, Roberto
Rodrigues, and Environment, Marina Silva, and the presidential chief of
staff, minister Dilma Rousseff.

For Greenpeace director of Government Policies, Sérgio Leitão, the
announcement means that Brazil took a stand on behalf of life,
biodiversity, and food security. "It marks the day when the country
decided to give priority to national interests, frequently at odds with
the interests of the large biotechnology companies that restrict the
right of Brazilian consumers to choose whether or not to consume
genetically modified food," Leitão judges.

The coordinator of the Land of Rights movement, Maria Rita Reis, said she
is relieved over the stance taken by the Brazilian government. She said
that, up to this point, the discussions at the official meeting had
focused on purely commercial aspects. "With the government taking this
position, biosecurity will finally come to the forefront of the debates
on implementing the Cartagena Protocol," the activist believes.

Nevertheless, the NGOs are still critical about the four-year deadline
proposed for adopting the new rule. In their note, the organizations
recall that the negotiations have already been underway for five years.
This should clearly suggest "that the transition period for exporters of
transgenics to adapt has already passed."

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Agreement sets 2012 deadline for labeling of transgenics
SOURCE: Agência Brasil
        translated by David Silberstein
DATE:   20 Mar 2006

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Agreement sets 2012 deadline for labeling of transgenics

Brasília - Until 2012 exports and imports among the Cartagena Biosecurity
Protocol signatory nations will not be obliged to carry labels
identifying genetically modified grains. This identification will depend
on each country's technical capabilities.

The agreement was reached Friday (17) night at the conclusion of the 3rd
Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Biosecurity Protocol (MOP-3),
which began on Monday (13), in Curitiba. "This decision reflects a
situation in which these international decision-making arenas are
increasingly dominated by the power that transnational companies have
over countries," contends Maria Rita Reis, legal advisor of the non-
governmental organization, Land of Rights, which took part in the meeting.

Representatives of Mexico and Paraguay were the only ones among the 96
signatory nations to oppose the labeling of products with either the
expression "contains" or "may contain" with respect to the presence of
transgenics. Mexico buys around 3 million tons of genetically modified
corn, annually, from the United States.

Reis informed that among signatory countries in which there are already
separate supply chains for transgenics and non-transgenics, the
expression "contains" will be used from now on to label international
shipments. When shipments are between signatories and non-signatories,
she said, the expression "may contain" will probably be used.

"The final decision on the use of the expression "contains" was left for
the MOP-6, the meeting scheduled for 2012," she added.

(Information provided by the ministries of Foreign Relations and Environment)

                                  PART III
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TITLE:  Itamaraty lauds LMO identification accord
SOURCE: Agência Brasil, by Irene Lôbo
        translated by David Silberstein
DATE:   20 Mar 2006

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Itamaraty lauds LMO identification accord

Brasília - On Saturday (18), the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations
("Itamaraty") issued a note stating that the 3rd Meeting of the Parties
to the Cartagena Biosecurity Protocol (MOP-3) represents a landmark in
that an agreement was finally reached on rules for the documentation and
identification of living modified organisms (LMOs), also denominated

According to the note, Brazil was responsible for the introduction of an
original proposal to reconcile the differences of opinion existing among
the participants. For the next four years shipments will bear the label
"contains LMOs," following by a list of the organisms present in the
cargo. If such an identification is not possible, the label "might
contain LMOs" will be attached, followed by a list of the organisms that
might be present in the shipment and other information. After 2010 only
the "contains LMOs" wording will be used.

"As co-president, together with Switzerland, of the Contact Group that
dealt with this matter at the MOP-3, Brazil played a major role in the
negotiations. Moreover, Brazil authored the document that served as a
basis for the weeklong discussions on Article 18.2 (a) and led the way to
the meeting's last minute agreement," the note observes.

During the transition phase, the signatory countries will adopt the
criteria proposed by Brazil. At the MOP-5 in 2010, this experience will
be reviewed and evaluated to prepare for a definitive solution at the
MOP-6 in 2012, making mandatory the use of the expression "contains LMOs"
in papers accompanying all shipments containing LMOs. This will be the
only system in effect after 2012.

"This represents an important victory, most of all for the developing
countries. The new rules reinforce the implementation of the country's
extant legislation, as well as favoring the coexistence of agricultural
systems that produce LMOs, non-LMOs, and organic crops," the Itamaraty

At the MOP-3, according to the ministry, decisions were also taken on
other significant issues covered in the Protocol, such as risk analysis
and management, training, and the mechanism for disseminating information
- the Biosafety Clearing House. The meeting was attended by more than
three thousand people, including delegates from around 100 countries and
representatives of international organizations, non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), interest groups, the academic community, and the
international media. The Brazilian delegation comprised 130 members from
various government agencies and civil society.

                                  PART IV
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TITLE:  Large importers demand identification of transgenics
SOURCE: Agência Brasil, by Mylena Fiori
        translated by David Silberstein
DATE:   16 Mar 2006

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Large importers demand identification of transgenics

Brasília - By backing the detailed identification of transgenic products
for export, Brazil is meeting a demand made by social movements that
defend environmental security and human health throughout the world,
especially in Third World countries.

"In truth, 90% of the international trade involving transgenics is
subjected to controls, because the major import markets demand it. Now
what we are discussing is to control the remaining 10%, which generally
goes to countries like the ones in Africa, Nicaragua, Peru, and Bolivia,
which don't have the chance to perform tests and lack the political power
to prevent the entry of food assistance, for example," argues Marijane
Lisboa, a professor of international relations at the Pontifical Catholic
University of São Paulo (PUC-SP) and a representative of the Organic
Agriculture Association (AAO), one of the groups that supports the Brazil
Free of Transgenics Campaign.

The labeling of transgenic products for export, whether for human or
animal consumption or for processing, is spelled out in the Cartagena
Biosecurity Protocol, an international agreement which has been endorsed
by 130 countries with rules for trade involving living modified organisms
(LMOs). The protocol, adopted in 2000 by the members of the Convention on
Biological Diversity, entered into effect in 2003.

The question of whether or not to require the identification of
transgenics in detail was raised for the first time at the first Meeting
of the Parties, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2004, and the debate
continued when the parties met for the second time, in Montreal, Canada,
last year.

At that time Brazil and New Zealand were the only countries that defended
the use of the expression "may contain transgenics" on the labels of
products for exports. The other signatory countries that attended the
meeting voted for the precise and complete identification of products
when they are sold to other countries.

The debate was renewed this week, in the southern Brazilian city of
Curitiba, at the Third Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol
(MOP-3). If they reach a consensus, the 130 countries will initiate
negotiations on which information to include on the labels of transgenics.

Lisboa points out the flow of unidentified transgenics poses risks to the
environment and human health. A grain that is not authorized for
consumption, for example, could easily end up entering the country,
falling on the ground, germinating, and contaminating the environment.

The professor disputes the argument made by rural producers who claim
that the added cost of identifying transgenics will make Brazil's farm
exports uncompetitive. She says that it will cost only 4 US cents per ton
to comply with the controls.

"A large portion of our exports is already tested and identified for
shipping, because the main import markets, which are the European Union,
China, and Japan, don't buy anything without knowing what they are
buying. These countries have unambiguous laws, and exporters try to
follow them," she reiterates.

                                  PART V
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TITLE:  Labeling of transgenic products can hurt the country, the CNA
SOURCE: Agência Brasil, by Cecília Jorge
        translated by David Silberstein
DATE:   15 Mar 2006

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Labeling of transgenic products can hurt the country, the CNA alleges

Brasília - The proposal to identify transgenic products sold abroad will
cause Brazil to lose international competitiveness, according to the
National Confederation of Agriculture (CNA). The CNA's vice president of
International Affairs, Gilman Viana Rodrigues, calculates that the change
will add 10% to the sector's production costs.In the case of soybean
exports, for example, producers may end up spending around US$ 1 billion.

The minister of Environment, Marina Silva, announced that Brazil will
defend the use of the expresson "it contains," referring to live,
genetically modified organisms, as determined in article 18 of the
Cartagena Protocol on Biodiversity (MOP-3).

The labelling of shipments of organically modified organisms will have to
include information on the processes of production, transportation, and
storage. This matter is being discussed in Curitiba by the nations that
ratified the Protocol.

In Rodrigues' view, however, the proposal previously approved by the
National Technical Commission on Biosecurity (CTNBio) and accepted by the
sector was for merchandise to bear the term "it may contain." Rodrigues
argues that the advantage is that transgenic grains were transported
together with non-transgenic grains, which is a pratice adopted by the
majority of exporters. The term also spares each shipment of having to be
analyzed separately.

According to Rodrigues, the "it contains" label will add to production
costs, to the disavantage of Brazil on the international market. He
states that Brazil, which is one of the world's largest exporters of
agricultural commodities, alongside the United States, Canada, and
Argentina, was the only one to endorse the Protocol.

"The United States, Canada, and Argentina will watch Brazil digging its
own grave," he remarked. "Brazil will have to pay the costs of enforcing
the rule that it is proposing and that will make trade more expensive.
Buyers could care less and will continue to buy transgenic products from
Argentina and the United States."

According to the minister's proposal, producers who have not yet
separated transgenics from non-transgenics in their shipments will have
four years to adjust to the new rule. For those who have already adhered
to the rule, the label will be mandatory as soon as the measure takes effect.

                                  PART VI
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TITLE:  Minister says that identification of transgenics represents a
        ''social conquest''
SOURCE: Agência Brasil, by Lúcia Nórcio
        translated by David Silberstein
DATE:   15 Mar 2006

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Minister says that identification of transgenics represents a ''social

Curitiba - Brazil will uphold the use of the expression "it contains" for
shipments of live, genetically modified organisms, including information
referring to the process of production, transportation, and storage, when
they are exported to other countries. This position, announced, yesterday
(14), at the 3rd Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Biosecurity
Protocol (MOP3), represents a victory, most of all, for Brazilian
society, according to the minister of the Environment, Marina Silva.

In the minister's opinion, taking into account the biosecurity of living,
genetically modified organisms is a challenge for every country in the
world, especially ones as diversified as Brazil. Brazil is among the 17
countries with the greatest biodiversity in the world. Between 15 and 20%
of the planet's biodiversity is found in Brazil.

Silva explained that a four-year transition period has been established
to implement the system that identifies the presence of genetically
modified live organisms in products and grains that will be exported.
"Just as soon as conditions are implanted, the separation will be
effectuated. This is a matter of procedure. We're talking about a model
of coexistence, giving us time to work out the separation measures to do
the identification." The minister asserted that this interval is
necessary for ports and transportation systems to be adjusted to the new

The minister went on to say that important grain-producing countries like
Brazil will not be hurt, because the Protocol's signatory nations will
also require other grain producers to identify their products. According
to Silva, one of the great conquests of the Brazilian proposal will be to
oblige countries like the United States, that didn't endorse the
Protocol, to identify the contents of their shipments when they export
products to countries that signed the document.

European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
news & information

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