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Internat. Chamber of Commerce doesn'like biosafety



2 item-menu - first a news story, then a U.S. Council for International
Business handout 
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Biotech Industry Discusses Trade

By RICARDO MALDONADO Associated Press Writer

CARTAGENA, Colombia (AP) - U.N.-sponsored negotiations on regulating
trade in genetically modified organisms have been transformed into an
international trade battle that could hurt a rapidly growing business,
biotechnology industry officials charged Wednesday.

Little apparent headway has been made at the talks attended by
representatives of more than 130 nations in this Caribbean city. The
discussions, an outgrowth of the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil, are to
produce a biosafety treaty by Tuesday.

Disagreements pit industrialized nations including the United States -
the world's leading exporter of bioengineered products - against most
developing nations, which fear such crops could have devastating
effects on their cultural traditions and more rudimentary agriculture.

Developing nations want an accord that gives them the right to
restrict or deny imports of genetically modified organisms - from
pest-resistant corn, soybeans and potatoes to cutting-edge
pharmaceuticals - and make producers of such items legally liable for
any environmental or economic damages.

The director of one of the world's leading seed producers, Mario
Rodriguez of Mexico's Pulsar Group, said the Cartagena talks "have
been converted into negotiations over international trade, not about
safeguarding biodiversity.''

In a statement, industry groups from Argentina, Mexico, the United
States and Canada said they favor a protocol that will "assure that
the growing benefits of biotechnology for the world's population don't
come at the expense of biodiversity.''

But they don't want their products halted at borders for what they
consider unsound scientific reasons.

The president of Argentina's Society of Seed Companies, Hector
Laurence, said international sales last year in genetically modified
products amounted to $30 billion. China alone imported 46 million tons
of such goods, and Africa and the Middle East imported 138 million
tons, he said.

Genetically engineered crops produce higher yields with less use of
insecticides. Industry officials say they could account for 95 percent
of U.S. agricultural exports within a decade.

But environmental groups argue that such products have not yet been
adequately tested and could pose still unforeseen catastrophic health
and ecological risks.

A coalition of such groups has called for a five-year moratorium on
further releases into the environment of such crops, food and animal
feed products.

"The lax environmental standards in the United States are now being
promoted internationally by the U.S. government (at the Cartagena
talks) and that should be of concern,'' said Charles Margulis of the
environmental group Greenpeace.
_________________________________________________________________


** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest
in receiving the included information for research and educational
purposes. **



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Company Press Release

Biodiversity Jeopardized in Cartagena Biosafety Negotiations

CARTAGENA, Colombia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 17, 1999--The global
biotechnology industry observers of the final round of negotiation of the
Biosafety Protocol in Cartagena express grave concern over the state of
the negotiation and its implications for economic development for the
people of the world and their access to beneficial products.

The industry fully supports the initial aim of the Biosafety Protocol --
to ensure that the growing benefits to the world's people from modern
biotechnology do not come at the expense of biodiversity.

We have sought to work with the leadership of the negotiation, other
Non-Governmental Organizations and the country delegates to stimulate a
protocol that provides practical and meaningful protection to
biodiversity. This end, which is broadly accepted, is being seriously
threatened by aggressively advocated positions that are fundamentally
misguided. The cost may be a collapsed negotiation or, even worse, an
agreement forged from purely political compromises that will dramatically
disrupt global trade. It would also undermine economic development by
denying the benefits of modern biotechnology to major segments of the
world's population.

Biotechnology products include seeds to grow grains, vegetable and fruits
that resist insect pests, foods with enhanced nutritional content,
pharmaceuticals that target our most feared diseases and even microbes
that synthesize chemicals using less energy and creating less pollution.
These products are already demonstrating their enormous potential benefit
to humankind but realization of those benefits broadly around the globe
would be threatened under proposals still being considered in these
negotiations.

Agricultural applications of modern biotechnology have been a particular
focus of these negotiations. These applications increase food productivity
with less environmental impact than most current farming practices. Higher
agricultural productivity is essential to avoid loss of biodiversity that
would result from converting forests and marginal lands to agriculture, to
say nothing of the challenge of feeding the rapidly growing human
population.

The vast experience to date has shown the positive compatibility of new
agricultural varieties produced through biotechnology with a healthy
environment. These crops were grown last year on approximately 70 million
acres (28 million hectares) worldwide. Thoroughly reviewed by regulatory
agencies for health and environmental concerns, these products have lived
up to expectations. Wherever the uses of genetically modified seeds have
been approved, farmers have enthusiastically used these seeds for the many
advantages they offer over traditional varieties.

This remarkable technology is under threat in the final negotiations of
the Biosafety Protocol in Cartagena. Proposals to broaden the scope of the
Protocol go well beyond those necessary to assure that biotechnology will
not pose a threat to biodiversity. Some of the proposals will also cause
major disruptions in world trade with negative impacts on food
availability.

Other proposals under consideration would: -- undermine the use of
established science in evaluating

biotechnology; -- impede technology transfer and scientific research; --
threaten to limit the availability of this important tool; and -- prevent
or restrict its use in developing countries.

Developing countries are the countries that could benefit most from the
use of biotechnology to increase agricultural productivity, reduce
environmental degradation and conserve biological diversity in their
territories. In many cases, misunderstanding and misinformation
disseminated by outside interest groups have succeeded in moving delegates
towards positions that may not be in the best overall interests of their
home countries.

Industry reasserts that for the Protocol to achieve its goal, it must have
the following elements:

1. The scope of the Protocol must be limited to Living Modified Organisms
(LMOs) that may have an adverse effect on biodiversity.

Therefore, the Protocol must NOT cover:
-- Non-viable products of LMOs, such as processed foods and feeds (e.g.
cereal and noodles)
-- Health care products and pharmaceuticals
-- Products destined for contained use, such as for manufacturing and
research
-- LMOs in transit through a country
-- Commodities not intended for deliberate release into the environment,
such as soybeans used for processing

2. The Advanced Informed Agreement (AIA) procedure should apply only to
first-time shipments of new LMOs.

3. The Protocol cannot be solely exporter based. Risk assessments under
AIA depend on criteria established by the party of import.

4. Risk assessment regarding importation of LMOs under the Protocol must
be based on internationally agreed scientific principles.

5. The Protocol must be compatible with existing international agreements
which include but are not limited to the World Trade Organization (WTO),
subsidiary agreements to WTO and the International Plant Protection
Convention (IPPC).

6. "Capacity building'' initiatives must be strategic, pragmatic and
affordable, taking available human and financial resources into
consideration.

7. The Protocol must not be used to create an international liability
regime for LMOs.

8. Trade with Non-Parties must be permitted.

These requirements represent the consensus of the Global Industry
Coalition. The Global Industry Coalition represents over 2200 firms from
more than 130 countries worldwide. Our membership includes companies from
a variety of industrial sectors including plant 'and animal agriculture,
food production, human and animal health care and the environment.

The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) advances the global
interests of American business both at home and abroad. The USCIB has a
membership of over 300 global corporations, professional firms, and
business associations. It is the American affiliate of the International
Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Business and Industry Advisory Committee
(BIAC) to the OECD, and the International Organization of Employers (IOE).
As such, it officially represents U.S. business positions in the main
intergovernmental bodies, and vis-a-vis foreign business communities and
their governments.

The USCIB is a member of the Global Industry Coalition.
______________

Contact:
Joyce Groote, Cartagena (57-5) 735-7886
Libby Mikesell, Washington, D.C. (202) 857-0244
_______________________


** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest
in receiving the included information for research and educational
purposes. **