info4action archive


GE - Stop the WTO Millennium Round

Message from Sue Birley, of SCAM (Swindon Campaign against modification of
food by GE):

It would be great if any genetics campaigners who are not already doing so
could put a bit of energy (even write just one letter) into the campaign
that is really now gathering pace and is aimed at stopping the Millennium
Round of the WTO (World Trade Organisation).

Contents of this message:
 *introductory blurb
 *please write a letter
 *useful website and e-mail addresses
 *sign on statement for organisations (not individuals)

If you want any more information before next week, try one of the other
addresses given as I won't be around!

*INTRODUCTORY BLURB  At the end of November, the WTO's 3rd ministerial
conference (of 135 member countries) will be held in Seattle to set the
future agenda for the WTO. The EU and others are calling for an ambitious
new round of negotiations (the Millennium Round) aiming at further
liberalisation of world trade. But opposition to this is growing all around
the world. Campaigners are saying 'Stop the Millennium Round' and look at
the record of the WTO so far, and repair the damage. 

Why the WTO matters to genetics campaigners:
It could undermine anything we do. Even if (big if) the UK Government
acceded to our demands to stop those crops, it could face a challenge from
the WTO. Indeed it has already used this excuse but expert legal opinion
has in turn challenged this. However, further trade liberalisation would
mean further difficulties, and see the threat from the US of a trade war
over GM food and crops.

Even our flawed labelling system could be threatened, and our government
has used the WTO rules as an excuse not to insist on segregation of imports.

US style patents on life could be forced on developing countries - US style
means NOT to the benefit of developing countries. And we don't want any
Biosafety Protocol to be subject to WTO rules, do we?

There is huge concern from development charities that WTO rules could be
used to force developing countries to accept GM crops and food.

There's lots more but that is all I have time for at present! There are
various e-mail lists and websites that may be of interest (see below).
Friends of the Earth are working hard on this, and all the development
groups. No shortage of information if you want it. It is crucial. Try and
think of it as not so much yet another thing you have to do but something
you should do to make all the rest work.

*PLEASE WRITE A LETTER as soon as possible. There are lots of deadlines,
some already gone; one coming up soon is the EU ministers meeting in Geneva
on October 11th to determine the EU's position for Seattle, so it would be
good if Richard Caborn got a few more letters before he (or whoever it will
be but it will be a DTI line that is taken....) goes to Geneva. The EU
position is that it wants the Millennium Round but even if we don't think
we can alter this position in the short term, if we don't write, they'll
think we agree with them!

If you can't write quickly, do so later, as it will always be worth it,
right up to the day the WTO is turned round into something like the
organisation we'd all like to see. 

The relevant minister for the UK is:

The Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP, Minister for Trade, Department of
Trade and Industry, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET.  Tel 0171 215
5000,  Fax 0171 222 0612. e-mail:   [looks
funny to me but that's what it says on my DTI letter]

Urge him to oppose the launch of a new round of WTO negotiations that would
expand the power of the WTO which at present favours rich corporations and
has been such a disaster for democracy, working conditions and the
environment. Ask him instead to press for an assessment of the WTO's record
to date so that ways can be identified to change international trade and
investment rules to promote fair trade and sustainable development.

Write to your MP too (if you can only write once, do this and ask him/her
to pass on your letter to Mr. Caborn).


1. The UK-Anti-MAI Forum:  (you may remember that the MAI died but the
intention is to chop the body into bits and make it come alive again within
the WTO)
 Send an e-mail to <> with the following command in the
body of your e-mail message:
 subscribe uk-anti-maif

2. The StopWTORound e-mail list.  Go to
<<>>  In the
space beneath By Name or Subject, type StopWTORound

3. The Five Year Freeze Campaign has a useful briefing

4. So does FoE: ask Ronnie Hall. Her e-mail is <>


This is not for individuals: you can sign only if entitled to do so on
behalf of an organisation. But it doesn't have to be a big one - a local
political party, or a branch of FoE for example. Well over a 1000
organisations around the world have now signed it. For more detail see

Send the name of your organisation to Ronnie Hall <>


In November 1999, the governments of the world will meet in Seattle for the
World Trade Organisation's Third Ministerial Conference. We, the
undersigned members of international civil society, oppose any effort to
expand the powers of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) through a new
comprehensive round of trade liberalisation. Instead, governments should
review and rectify the deficiencies of the system and the WTO regime itself.

The Uruguay Round Agreements and the establishment of the WTO were
proclaimed as a means of enhancing the creation of global wealth and
prosperity and promoting the well-being of all people in all member states.
In reality however, in the past five years the WTO has contributed to the
concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich few; increasing poverty
for the majority of the world's population; and
unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.

The Uruguay Round Agreements have functioned principally to prise open
markets for the benefit of transnational corporations at the expense of
national economies; workers, farmers and other people; and the
environment. In addition, the WTO system, rules and procedures are
undemocratic, untransparent and non-accountable and have operated to
marginalise the majority of the world's people.

All this has taken place in the context of increasing global economic
instability, the collapse of national economies, increasing inequity both
between and within nations and increasing environmental and social
degradation, as a result of the acceleration of the process of globalisation.

The governments which dominate the WTO and the transnational corporations
which have benefited from the WTO system have refused to recognise and
address these problems. Instead, they are pushing for
further liberalisation through the introduction of new issues for adoption
in the WTO. This will lead to the exacerbation of the crisis associated
with the process of globalisation and the WTO.

We oppose any further liberalisation negotiations, especially those which
will bring new areas under the WTO regime, such as investment, competition
policy and government procurement. We commit ourselves to campaign to
reject any such proposals. We also oppose the Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.

We call for a moratorium on any new issues or further negotiations that
expand the scope and power of the WTO.

During this moratorium there should be a comprehensive and in-depth review
and assessment of the existing agreements. Effective steps should then be
taken to change the agreements. Such a review should address the WTO's
impact on marginalised communities, development, democracy, environment,
health, human rights, labour rights and the rights of women and children.
The review must be conducted with civil society's full participation.

The failure of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's
Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) demonstrates broad public
opposition to the deregulation of the global economy, the
increasing dominance of transnational corporations and escalating resource
use and environmental degradation.

A review of the system will provide an opportunity for society to change
course and develop an alternative, humane and sustainable international
system of trade and investment relations.

This statement is signed by

Marsh Cottage
Wilts. SN4 0AR
tel/fax 01793 790438