info4action archive


GE - news mix up 23rd September part 2

1) Global gene-food talks kickstart in Vienna -Reuters, by Julia Ferguson 
September 16, 1999
2) Reuters  September 17, 1999 -Russia denies knowledge of GM maize imports
3)  RUSSIA OPEN FOR GENE-MODIFIED FEED IMPORTS September 21, 1999  Reuters -
Aleksandras Budrys - MOSCOW -
4) SOME GMO GUIDELINES AHEAD OF HARVEST  - September 16, 1999 Farm Journal
On-Line  Bob Coffman 
5) "Go organic every day" Sainsburys (SBRY.L) to open organic shop LONDON,
(Reuters) - 
6) EU is warned by America over curbs on GM foods By Charles Clover,
Environment Editor, in Geneva
7) News from Monsanto: We welcome those of you who are new to this list and
would like to thank  you for joining. We hope you will find this service
convenient and  instructive.  Thank you for your interest. 
8) September 20, 1999 - TORONTO, Sept. 17 /CNW/ via NewsEdge Corporation 

1) Global gene-food talks kickstart in Vienna -Reuters, by Julia Ferguson 
September 16, 1999
VIENNA - Global negotiations have kicked off in Vienna to try to 
regulate the multi-billion-dollar trade in genetically altered 
foods and crops that can resist disease or produce higher yields. 
Sponsored by the United Nations, the closed-door conference is a 
second and final stab at drafting an internationally binding 
agreement on the trade, handling and transportation of 
genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The previous round of talks ended in stalemate last February in 
Cartagena, Columbia, after the main grain exporting countries led 
by the United States baulked at accepting environmental controls 
on exports of genetically engineered (GE) crops. The dispute was 
between the G-77 group of developing nations, wary that hi-tech 
crops could pose a potential risk to the environment and human 
health, and the so-called Miami Group of the U.S., Canada, 
Argentina, Uruguay, Australia and Chile. The Biosafety Protocol 
conference, which is scheduled to end on Sunday, is bringing 
together senior officials from some 150 nations. Environmental 
campaigners Greenpeace said the talks were vital as success would 
produce a draft to be signed by environment ministers next year.
"The protocol is basically about whether countries will have the 
right to reject imports of GMO crops on the basis of their 
environmental and health concerns," Greenpeace political adviser 
Louise Gale told Reuters. Biotechnology firms have invested 
heavily in GMOs, and faced with dwindling demand due to various 
import halts as countries assess the impact on the ecosystem, 
they are lobbying heavily at the talks to ensure the rules suit 
their shareholders. "The big question is what is going to happen 
with these GMO crops, where are they going to be going?" Gale 
said. Earlier on Thursday, Greenpeace said the U.S. was exporting 
GE maize to Russia even though Russian legislation requires 
special permits for such material.
Greenpeace said samples from an early August shipment of maize 
from the U.S. to Russia obtained by the group and analysed by the 
Federal Environment Agency of Austria was shown to contain GM 
maize. It said the Panamanian bulk carrier Blue Zenith, 45,782 
dwt, arrived at St Petersburg harbour on August 16 carrying 
42,000 tonnes of U.S. maize. In July, the Russian government 
issued a law that requires permits based on ecological assessment 
before genetically engineered material can be imported into the 
country. "It's going to be very important for countries to have 
these international rights to say 'no' to GMOs," Gale said.

2) Reuters  September 17, 1999 -Russia denies knowledge of GM maize imports
MOSCOW -- Russian authorities were cited as expressing surprise 
on Friday at a report by environmental campaigners Greenpeace 
that the country had imported genetically modified maize. Lidia 
Tereshkova, the head of the food division of the State Sanitary 
Control Department at the Health Ministry, was quoted as saying, 
"No genetically modified foods can cross the border without a 
license," but that the department would make the necessary 
checks. Greenpeace was cited as saying on Thursday in Vienna that 
the Panamanian bulk carrier Blue Zenith arrived at St. Petersburg 
on August 16, carrying 42,000 tonnes of U.S. genetically modified 
But a dispatcher at the St. Petersburg port was cited as telling 
Reuters on Friday that no U.S. maize had been unloaded at the 
port in August. He was also unfamiliar with the name Blue Zenith. 
"But another vessel, U.S. Juna with 52,000 tonnes of U.S. maize 
on board as part of a food aid package is due to dock on Saturday 
at 09:00 a.m," he said.
The dispatcher was unable to say whether Juna was carrying 
genetically modified or ordinary maize. Russian introduced a 
system of state registration of genetically engineered foods and 
ingredients from July 1 in order to guarantee the safety of 
imported products. Since then the health ministry has only issued 
licences to import genetically modified soybeans to U.S. food and 
chemicals producer Monsanto and to some Danish, French and Dutch 
companies to import some transgenic soya products.


3)  RUSSIA OPEN FOR GENE-MODIFIED FEED IMPORTS September 21, 1999  Reuters -
Aleksandras Budrys - MOSCOW -- 
Vyacheslav Avilov, head of the Russian Veterinary Department at 
> the Food and Agriculture Ministry was cited as saying that Russia is open 
> to imports of genetically modified animal feed, to which there are no 
> legal or other barriers, adding, "We are importing feed grains that are 
> commonly used in America and Canada. And we don't raise any questions as 
> to whether the cargoes contain genetically modified products or not." 
> The story notes that environmental campaigners Greenpeace said last 
> Thursday in Vienna that Russia had imported genetically modified maize, 
> although Russian legislation requires special permits for such material. 
> But Lidia Tereshkova, the head of the food division of the State Sanitary 
> Control Department at the Health Ministry, was cited as telling Reuters on 
> Tuesday that such permits were needed only for products meant for human 
> consumption, adding, "We register only food products. As this cargo was 
> not intended for that purpose it did not need our approval, but is the 
> responsibility of the Veterinary Department of The Food and Agriculture 
> Ministry." 
> Greenpeace was cited as saying the Panamanian bulk carrier Blue Zenith 
> arrived at St Petersburg on August 16 carrying 42,000 tonnes of U.S. maize 
> containing transgenic material. 
> But the port authorities said last week they had not registered the 
> unloading of this cargo. 
> Tereshkova was cited as saying on Tuesday that hygiene officials had made 
> checks and discovered that Blue Zenith had unloaded maize in the 
> neighbouring republic of Estonia and that from there part of the shipment 
> was imported to Russia by rail, adding, "The maize was intended for use as 
> animal feed and as seeds, and so was not subjected to hygiene tests." 
> Tereshkova added that the ministry has ordered its representatives in St 
> Petersburg to investigate whether any genetically modified maize unloaded 
> at the port since June was meant for human consumption. 
> Avilov was further cited as saying the ministry had no objections to 
> animal feed containing transgenic material as so far there was no 
> scientific proof that it could be harmful, adding, "People will always 
> look for ways and means to increase the productivity of animals and plants 
> as the problem of protein insufficiency is very acute. And anyway, the 
> volumes of such animal feeds are very limited and genetically modified 
> products are diluted with ordinary grain, so the animals get a tiny 
> quantity of such material." 
> A spokesman for Greenpeace-Russia was cited as telling Reuters the 
> movement was still worried about the possible consequences of importing 
> transgenic products, but could not immediately say whether the group 
> planned to take any action to prevent it. 
> Mark Ritchie, President 
> Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy 
> 2105 First Ave. South 
> Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 USA 
> 612-870-3400 (phone) 612-870-4846 (fax) 
> <> 
4) SOME GMO GUIDELINES AHEAD OF HARVEST  - September 16, 1999 Farm Journal
On-Line  Bob Coffman 
> A statewide video conference has, according to this story, been held in 
> Iowa to 
> try to get producers, grain handlers and processors on the same page going 
> into harvest. The uproar and uncertainty about GMO crops versus non-GMO 
> crops, -- or corn varieties which have not yet been given 
> clearance for trade in the EU countriesQhas led to huge confusion, with 
> combines starting to nose into 
> the fields. 
> Neil Harl, the nationally-known Iowa State University ag economics 
> professor, policy resource, and a member of the Iowa Bar, offers these 
> guidelines: 
> Several processors have signaled that products must be kept separate and 
> there will likely be differential pricing for GMOs and non-GMOs. That 
> means 
> exporters have to keep the products separate if they are to sell into that 
> market. In turn, elevators and other first purchasers are expected to 
> request the same of producers. As a practical matter, actual testing for 
> GMO germplasm for the 1999 crop is expected to be spotty with heavy 
> reliance on producer representation as to which loads are GMO and which 
> are non-GMO. 
> Harl says that it's not as simple as stating that a load of corn, soybeans 
> or other crops is GMO or non-GMO. Some of the seed companies concede that 
> their seed purporting to be non-GMO contained low levels of GMO germplasm. 
> Besides, contamination from pollen drift may have added to the level of 
> GMO germplasm in non-GMO crop. And there may have been mechanical 
> contamination in augers, wagons, storage bins or even in the combine 
> itself. 
> Harl says that all of this adds up to a high stakes legal problem for 
> everyone involved. Eventually, with reliable testing at every point at 
> which the crop is commingledQat the elevator, the processor's bins or at 
> export vesselsQit 
> will be possible to monitor more closely what is GMO and what contains 
> only low levels of GMO germplasm. But the system is not there yet and 
> won't 
> be capable of that type and extent of testing this crop season. 
> Bottmline: Producers should be careful. 
> Harl advises that if producers are asked by the first purchaser to promise 
> that the crop is non-GMO, they should be very careful what they sign or 
> even what oral comments are made. 
> Harl says farmers can realistically: 
> State that no seed represented by the seed company as GMO seed was 
> planted. State that seed represented by the seed company as non-GMO seed 
> was planted. State that care was taken in avoiding contamination in bins, 
> augers, and in the combine. 
> Producers should be careful NOT to: 
> -- State that the crop in question has no GMO 
> germplasm. 
> -- State that no contamination has occurred from 
> mechanical handling and storage of the crop. 
> -- State that no contamination has occurred from 
> pollen drift. 
> Harl also notes that the Uniform Commercial Code imposes implied 
> warranties or promises in some situations. An implied warranty of fitness 
> is imposed on the producer as seller if the seller has reason to know any 
> particular purpose for which the goods are required if the buyer is 
> relying on the seller's skill and judgment in providing the goods. 
> This could very well be invoked against a producer if the conditions are 
> met. You can disclaim or nullify an implied warranty of fitness but it 
> takes a conspicuous, written provision in a contract. 
> An implied warranty of merchantability is imposed on merchants. Nearly 
> half of the states treat farmers as merchants. One feature of this 
> warranty is that the goods must be fit for the ordinary purposes for which 
> they are to be used. Implied warranties of merchantability can be 
> disclaimed or nullified by the producer as seller if done orally or in 
> writing in 
> language that mentions merchantability. 
> Harl says this mean producrers should check immediately with likely 
> purchasers. What are they requiring? Some may not yet know. Once the 
> answer to that question is known, check carefully the language in any 
> statement you're asked to sign. Use caution in responding orally. 

5) "Go organic every day" Sainsburys (SBRY.L) to open organic shop LONDON,
(Reuters) - British supermarket group J.Sainsbury Plc said 
on Monday it planned to open an in-store organic shop at 
one of its sites in south London. The new organic shop will 
open at Sainsbury's Merton Savacentre in South Wimbledon 
next month and will offer 500 organic lines in one shopping 
area. Sainsburys said earlier this month that sales of 
organically grown food had more than doubled in a year, 
customers spending some 2.5 million pounds weekly at its 
stores on produce grown without the aid of artificial 
pesticides or fertilisers. A growing number of British 
consumers are switching to organic foods after concerns 
over genetically modified ingredients in products. 
6) EU is warned by America over curbs on GM foods By Charles Clover,
Environment Editor, in Geneva
AMERICA will challenge EU curbs on genetically modified food if they 
are "unscientific" under world trade rules.
The food labelling scheme for restaurants, introduced by Britain, is one
of the likely targets for complaint. Frank Loy, deputy to Madeleine 
Albright and United States under secretary for global affairs, said at a
high-level private forum at the weekend that America had been 
"relatively patient" in waiting for EU approval of new GM crops.
However, it would not wait forever and was not prepared to see further 
restrictions on imports, such as GM soya, that had already been 
approved. Mr Loy said: "We have two problems: a failure to approve 
importation of certain new products and a number of products which have 
been approved under a process the Europeans set up themselves with, so 
far as I know, no ill-effects whatsoever. If that [process] were 
tampered with, we would have a much, much more serious situation."
The US has sent papers to the World Trade Organisation saying that the 
mandatory labelling of food, such as that now imposed unilaterally by 
Britain at restaurants, can amount to a barrier to trade. Trade experts 
believe that labelling of GM products by the EU is now the most likely 
issue to form the subject of a complaint to the WTO dispute panel - the 
most powerful sanction any country can resort to short of war.
Mr Loy, a former conservationist and one of the most sensitive in the 
administration to the charge that free trade can be harmful to the 
environment, warned nevertheless that the United States was concerned 
about the EU's effective two-year moratorium on the approval of GM crops
while an EU directive on the release of GM crops is updated.
"The EU needs to look at its regulatory mechanisms," he said. "In the 
past it has approved a lot of products. It has more lately not approved 
anything, just sat on them. I think that a sound, science-based 
transparent process of looking at these questions and coming to 
conclusions about them would be a step forward." Mr Loy said that the 
different attitude to GM crops in Europe and America "might be a 
cultural thing" but it "doesn't seem to be consistent with any of the 
rules we have".
If countries were unable to find scientific reasons to justify banning 
products on environmental or health grounds, they should admit that they
could not comply with the rules and pay compensation or face up to trade
sanctions, he said.
Mr Loy was talking at a one-day forum in Geneva attended by Michael 
Meacher, the environment minister, senior EU officials and Klaus Töpfer,
head of the United Nations Environment Programme. The forum was set up 
in an attempt to head off a major row over the use of environmental 
standards as barriers to trade which threatens to overwhelm the World 
Organisation's meeting in Seattle in December.
Michael Meacher said: "There are certain issues which are clearly 
potential or actual conflicts. This probably is the best opportunity 
that we have to try to resolve them." He defended the testing procedures
Britain had set up, saying that they were scientific but would take time
and were not imposed as blocking measures, unlike those introduced by 
some other European 
Ministers and trade experts spent the weekend exploring a number of 
"win-win" measures likely to appeal to the three power blocks that will 
need to be appeased at the Seattle talks - the North Americans, the EU 
and the developing world.
They decided that fisheries subsidies, agriculture subsidies and 
subsidies on fossil fuels should all be reduced.
London Telegraph 

7) News from Monsanto: We welcome those of you who are new to this list and
would like to thank  you for joining. We hope you will find this service
convenient and  instructive.  Thank you for your interest. 
> --------------------------------
> Genetic Engineered Crop Studies Questioned; Results of monarch study, 
> among others, challenged 
> In a Cornell University News Release, "Anthony M. Shelton, professor of 
> entomology at Cornell's New York State College of Agriculture and Life 
> Sciences, and Richard T. Roush of the University of Adelaide, Australia 
> have written that the public should not be swayed by 'laboratory reports 
> that, when looked at with a critical eye, may not have any reality in the 
> field or even in the laboratory.'" The first of the three studies they 
> comment on concerns the effect of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn on the 
> monarch butterfly, which, they write, "can only be considered a 
> preliminary laboratory study." 
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
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> Should you have any comments or questions, feel free to contact 
> <>.

8) September 20, 1999 - TORONTO, Sept. 17 /CNW/ via NewsEdge Corporation 
-- The Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers 
(CFIG) said today that it supports the establishment 
of criteria for the voluntary labelling of food from 
CFIG fully endorses the joint project announced by 
the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors (CCGD) 
and the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) 
to develop consistent codes of practice for voluntary 
labelling of foods derived from biotechnology.
``Our organization represents the front line of 
grocery retailers in cities and small towns across the 
country who hear the questions of consumers every 
day. We want our customers to get information about 
this issue so they can make up their own minds,'' 
said John Scott, the President of CFIG.
Mr. Scott said that the CFIG looks forward to 
participating in the project to help formulate 
guidelines and criteria. The criteria will help create a 
consistent policy for the voluntary labelling of food 
from biotechnology which Canadian consumers can 
recognize and understand.
``CFIG members want consumers to know what 
they're buying. We believe that developing a 
labelling system is just one step in an overall 
program to educate Canadians about food from 
biotechnology,'' added Scott.
/For further information: John Scott, President, CFIG 
1-800-661-2344, ext. 22/
[Copyright 1999, Canada Newswire]
> Contact: Gary Goldberg, 918-488-1829 
> David Senter, 202-331-4348 
> ACGA Calls on Congress To Hold Oversight 
> Hearings on Availability of Traditional 
> Seeds 
> Washington, DC.....September 20, 1999---Growing uncertainty over the 
> market 
> acceptance of GMO crops is driving corn producers away from planting GMOs 
> next spring, according to the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA). 
> In communications with corn growers and grain elevators across the 
> country, 
> production agriculture is stating that the risks associated with planting 
> GMOs may be too great. Farmers mention the loss of export and domestic 
> markets, questions over cross-pollination, testing and certification, 
> concern over grain elevator insistence on segregation and premiums being 
> offered for GMO-free crops, as driving corn grower demand for alternatives 
> to GMOs. In addition, grain elevators are expressing apprehension over the 
> costs to segregate because their facilities are not equipped for separate 
> dumping and drying. All these reponses are pushing farmers away from GMOs, 
> leading to the forecast of a dramatic reduction in GMO-planted acres of 
> corn. 
> "There are too many uncertainties in agriculture. Weather and a failed 
> farm 
> policy that is responsible for historically low commodity prices make 
> farming difficult enough. We can't handle the additional uncertainty of 
> not 
> knowing if our crops will be marketable to foreign and domestic buyers," 
> said Gary Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer of the ACGA. 
> Last spring seed corn and chemical companies had predicted a sizable 
> increase in GMO planted acres for next planting year. If these companies 
> grew their seed in anticipation of that increase, it could make it 
> difficult to supply the market for GMO-free seed. Couple that with the 
> anticipated substantial decreases in GMO planted acres and the growing 
> demand for traditional seed and a severe shortage could be forthcoming. 
> Therefore, the ACGA is recommending that farmers order their GMO-free seed 
> as soon as possible to guarantee their availability. In addition, 
> Congressional oversight hearings involving the seed companies should be 
> held to determine the availability of non-GMO seed. 
> "It is our hope that seed corn companies will make every effort to supply 
> the growing demand for non-GMO seed. We believe it is in their best 
> interest to give their farmer-customer whatever seed is requested," 
> concluded Goldberg. 

Patent-debate reopened : Council of Europe opposes EPO-coup from this summer
Today, Sept.22, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe 
consented unanimousely to a proposition of MEP Wolfgang Wodarg (German 
Social Democrat): The Assembly rejects the patenting of plants, animals 
and human genes and cells. The Assembly advocates instead new procedures 
that are transparent for all concerned and a biotechnological innovation 
protection system that will promote lasting world food security.
With this decision the Parliamentary Assembly opposes the European Patent 
Office (EPO), whose Administrative Council decided this summer to radically 
change the European Patent Convention by allowing patents on plants, 
animals and human genes and cells. This decision was taken in all secrecy 
and bypassing democratic authorities. The EPO-Administrative Council rests 
its arguments on the controversial EU-Patent-Directive, which was adopted 
by the European Parliament in 1998. But this EU-Patent-Directive is being 
opposed at the European Court of Justice by the governements of The 
Netherlands and Italy.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council considers “the monopoly 
granted by patent authorities may undermine the value of regional and 
world-wide genetic resources and of traditional knowledge in those 
countries that provide access to those resources." It furthermore 
“considers that the issue of patenting living organisms could conflict with 
provisions of international treaties as the CBD and the TRIPS.
The Assembly recommends therefore that “the Committee of Ministers, in 
cooperation with WIPO, FAO and WTO, in accordance with the CBD, shall 
discuss a suitable system of protecting intellectual property in the field 
of biotechnology fitting the purpose of the CBD and meeting the needs of 
world-wide private as well as public interests." As an important first 
step, article 53 b of the Europesan Patent Convention, which states that 
patents shall not be granted to “plant or animal varieties or essentially 
biological processes for the production of plants or animals (....)" has to 
be closely looked at for a possible revision.
The European Coordination 'No patents on life' wellcomes this step very 
much. This might hopefully give an important sign to the forthcoming 
negotiations on the TRIPS agreement.

More Informations: 
Office Wolfgang Wodarg, Tel.+49 30 227 73371, e-mail:
(Or: Florianne Koechlin, 'No patents on life' ;

From: chris bishop <> 

Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy today made a surprise intervention in 
a party conference debate on genetically modified crops, calling for a
moratorium on commercial planting.< 
Ahead of his main speech to representatives in Harrogate tomorrow, Mr Kennedy 
attacked the Government's ``disastrous mishandling'' of the issue.< 
In a brief contribution, his first from the conference platform since being 
elected leader, he called on the party to be ``bolder'' in its commitment to
Mr Kennedy insisted a moratorium on commercial growing, in the face of 
``legitimate public anxiety'', would not prevent research into GM
``Science should be the servant of humanity,'' he said. ``Science must never 
become the master of humanity.''< 
Research was necessary so that scientists could provide politicians with the 
information needed to make crucial decisions on GM crops.< 
``Because of the disastrous mishandling by the Government of this policy 
issue, people don't even trust `trust me' Tony.< 
``They don't trust him because they don't think Cabinet ministers are telling 
them the truth.''< 
He said the Liberal Democrats had to instill in voters the ``fundamental 
belief that they can start trusting again their elected representatives''.< 
Mr Kennedy said: ``The environment is going to be an absolutely fundamental 
issue for our party.< 
``It's always been a central issue. But we have to be bolder in our
to the environment.''< 
The Liberal Democrats must be ``watertight'' on the issue in the face of 
inevitable attacks by other politicians, he added.< 
Mr Kennedy said he was proud of the policy paper on GM food, which provided
excellent basis on which to move forward.< 
The Liberal Democrats must be a party that was not scared of information or
sharing it with the public.< 
``That's not happening at the moment and that's why I think this approach to 
GM makes sense.''< 
International Trade Reporter
Volume 16 Number 37 Wednesday, September 22, 1999 Page 1531 ISSN 1523-2816 
U.S. Seminar Planned to Allay EU Fears Over Genetically Modified Organisms

BRUSSELS--The United States is helping organize a major biotechnology 
seminar and hearings in the European Parliament as part of a offensive 
aimed at influencing EU legislators and the general public to view enhanced 
foods as good to grow and safe to eat.
"We would have American companies and scientists come to Europe and answer 
questions," said David Aaron, U.S. undersecretary of commerce for 
international trade, at a meeting of policymakers and lobbyists in Brussels 
Sept. 17.
Such active participation would be significant but risky--questioning the 
wisdom of Europe's sensitive lawmakers inside their own house, observers say.
With all the main interests represented, including a well-organized and 
vocal environmental lobby, the exercise could backfire if "Frankenstein 
food" sensationalists grab the media spotlight, observers say. However, 
failure to attend and face a potentially hostile barrage of questioning 
would be viewed as much worse on this side of the Atlantic.
Making his pitch, Aaron blamed "some public figures" for confusing the GMO 
debate. "In Europe, biotechnology has gotten mixed up in the public's mind 
with dioxin chicken and Mad Cow Disease." He also questioned the stance 
taken by those politicians unprepared to take on public opposition, as well 
as the French government, which has approved biotechnology products but 
prevented them from being released in the rest of the EU.
The United States wants a debate over genetically modified organisms to 
take place now rather than in 2002, when a de facto moratorium on approving 
new products is lifted. In June, unable to agree on revising the EU's 
complicated approval procedures, ministers called for more studies on any 
potential adverse environmental effects.
Public Opinion Defies Science
In an earlier interview, Dr. Caroline Jackson, chair of the European 
Parliament's Environment, Consumer and Public Health Committee, (U.K.) 
said, "It's no good the scientists saying this is fine, you can eat it, if 
a whole group of people in Western Europe are saying we don't want to eat 
it; we want to have the choice. For many years the Americans haven't 
understood that."
Aaron called on the EU to develop a coherent biotechnology policy that 
safeguards health, exploits the economic opportunities, and creates 
"processes and institutions that will assure the public."
While the EU's new team of 20 Commissioners was being sworn in 240 
kilometers away in Luxembourg, Aaron held talks with advisers in the EU 
executive, which proposes new regulations. Briefing reporters, he stressed, 
"the new Commission is prepared to deal with this issue on the basis of 
science, on the basis of fact."
Commenting on EU relations during the honeymoon period of both a new 
executive and a new Parliament, Aaron said he was positive. "The European 
Commission has demonstrated a new vigor in trying to solve problems," he 
Hushkits, Data Privacy
Other rows addressed during his visit included "hushkits" for airplanes and 
Internet "privacy laws." There were no breakthroughs, however.
According to Aaron, the EU's proposed ban on aircraft hushkits "is already 
having a very serious chilling effect on the market." Estimates for lost 
sales are $1.6 billion for kits and replacement engines, $0.5 billion for 
devaluation of the U.S. fleet.
However, he said both the United States and the EU have new positions to 
explore that include new noise standards.
As for data privacy rules, Aaron said the European Commission wants "to try 
to bring this to a conclusion this fall." This would tie in with December's 
EU Summit.

By Nick Mackie
Copyright © 1999 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington D.C.
International Trade Reporter
Volume 16 Number 37 Wednesday, September 22, 1999 Page 1517 ISSN 1523-2816 
World News
OECD Convenes Food Safety Experts To Work on Biotechnology Research

PARIS--The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Sept. 14 
launched a new multilateral effort to fine-tune existing processes for 
assessing the complex links among biotechnology, the environment and food 
The new dialogue, which also aims to ward off trade disputes between OECD 
member countries and reassure consumers about the safety of foods produced 
from biotechnology, was prompted when the Group of Eight industrialized 
countries asked the OECD to review the food safety aspects of genetically 
modified organisms (GMOs) during their summit meeting in Cologne, Germany, 
last June (16 ITR 1040, 6/23/99).
Specifically, the G-8 leaders called on the OECD's Working Group on the 
Harmonization of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology and its Task Force 
for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds to "undertake a study of the 
implications of biotechnology and other aspects of food safety."
The G-8 countries are: Canada, France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, 
Japan, the United States, and Russia.
Members of the working group, which carries out projects related to the 
environmental safety assessment of new biotechnology products, including 
GMOs, and the task force, which covers food safety assessment, met the week 
of Sept. 13 at the OECD's Paris headquarters to "define the best approaches 
for responding to the G-8 request," according to Francois Pythoud, a 
biologist in the Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests, and Landscape 
who chairs the working group.
"We are really at the beginning of a process," Pythoud said at a Sept. 14 
press conference, adding that the first order of business would be to 
determine exactly what type of recommendations should be included in the 
report being prepared for the G-8.
'Poison Pill' Assignment
Many observers have called the G-8 request a "poison pill" for the OECD, 
given the general disagreement among its members on the use and risks of 
biotechnology products in agriculture. The OECD will be hard-pressed to 
make firm recommendations on GMOs if the ongoing spat between the United 
States and the European Union over the new crops boils over into a World 
Trade Organization dispute.
Similarly, the OECD will find it difficult to reach a consensus on public 
calls in some countries for creation of an international food regulatory 
body. French President Jacques Chirac suggested the idea last June, drawing 
angry responses from American officials that Europe would be better served 
with an EU-wide regulatory body along the lines of the U.S. Food and Drug 
OECD Secretary-General Donald Johnston insisted that the new dialogue 
within the 29-member organization would pose an opportunity "to get away 
from some of the polemic" surrounding these issue, in favor of "a 
science-based approach based on transparency, inclusiveness, objectivity, 
sound analysis, and the impartiality and credibility of the OECD."
Neither Johnston nor any of the committee heads accompanying him at the 
Sept. 14 press conference were willing to speculate as to whether the 
OECD's report to the G-8 would take positions on the potential risks posed 
by particular GM crops to animals, human health, or the environment, nor 
could they say whether the report would assess calls for an international 
food safety body.
Paul Mayers, a top official in the Canadian Department of Health and 
chairman of the Task Force on Novel Foods and Feeds, said the new study 
group was not formed to "solve an impasse" between countries or blocs of 
countries, but rather to "provide expert guidance by which countries can 
make decisions" on the use of biotechnology in foodstuffs.
Further information on the OECD's work on biotechnology is available on the 
OECD Web site at http:// <>

By Lawrence Speer
Copyright © 1999 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington D.C.