info4action archive


GE -biosafety

1 EDM x 3 to Meacher on Biosafety talks
2US opposes prior notice for GM crop shipments 
3US Keen To Limit GMO Safety Rules To 
4International GM Safety Rules in Danger No EU Sell-Out say Greens/EFA
5No reason for confidence in biotech industry
6Participants at loggerheads-
7Canada pushes GM foods: Sales pitch 
8U.S., EU to hold fast on biotech agendas 
9U.N. Biosafety Protocol talks begin in ......
10Protesters Target Canada House In London 
11 U.S. opposes effort to expand biosafety pact 

Julia Drown (Lab - South Swindon):
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the 
Regions, if it is his policy to support the adoption of a biosafety 
protocol making companies that produce genetically-modified organisms 
legally liable for any future damage to the environment or public health 
resulting from the import of those GMOs by another country. [104584]
Mr Meacher: 
In the negotiations on the Biosafety Protocol to the Convention on 
Biological Diversity resuming in Montreal later this month, we will 
continue to support an enabling provision that would adopt a process 
elaborating international rules and procedures in the field of liability 
and redress for damage resulting from transboundary movements of living 
(genetically) modified organisms, and endeavour to complete the process 
within four years.
Monday 17 January 2000 for Wednesday 12 January 2000 (No 31)
Department of thc Environment, Transport and the Regions
104584/99/00 (8c) 
Julia Drown (Lab - South Swindon) :
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the 
Regions, if it is his policy to support the adoption of a biosafety 
protocol requiring the separation of genetically-modified grain from other 
grain. [104585]
Mr Meacher: 
The draft text of the Biosafety Protocol to the Convention on Biological 
Diversity does not require separation. However, EU Ministers have agreed 
that information exchange and documentation requirements are needed under 
the Protocol and should ensure satisfactory transparency and monitoring of 
movements of LMOs as well as their identification, which would also enable 
Monday 17 January 2000 for 
Wednesday 12 January 2000 (No 32) 
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
104585/99/00 (8c) 
Julia Drown (Lab - South Swindon):
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the 
Regions, if it is his policy to support the adoption of a biosafety 
protocol allowing governments to prohibit imports of genetically-modified 
organisms. [104586]
Mr Meacher: 
Yes. The Biosafety Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity 
would establish Advanced Informed Agreement (AIA) procedures, whereby a 
Party of import could accept or refuse imports of certain living 
(genetically) modified organisms (LMOs) on the basis of the impacts on 
Monday 17 January 2000 for 
Wednesday 12 January 2000 (NÝ 30) 
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
104586/99/00 (8c)
2 US opposes prior notice for GM crop shipments 
> 19 Jan 2000 (Reuters) - 
> The United States strongly opposes any 
> attempt to require exporters to provide advance notice of 
> shipments of genetically modified crops, a U.S. official 
> said on Wednesday. David Sandalow, assistant secretary of 
> state for oceans, environment and science, told reporters 
> such a requirement would "disrupt world food trade without 
> (providing) significant environmental benefits." 
> Developing countries plan to push for the notification 
> requirement in upcoming environmental talks. Environmental 
> officials from some 134 countries gather in Montreal this 
> week to try to forge a Biosafety Protocol to protect the 
> world's plants and animals from any adverse effects of 
> genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The talks formally 
> open Monday and end Jan. 28. A similar effort last year in 
> Cartagena, Colombia failed. The United States supports 
> "advance informed agreements" for shipments of GMOs, such 
> as seeds, that will be directly introduced into the 
> environment, Sandalow said. Genetically modified crops 
> destined for food, feed and processing do not fit that 
> criteria, he said. The United States is the world's largest 
> producer of genetically modified crops. More than half of 
> U.S. soybeans and one-third of U.S. corn are produced from 
> seed varieties that have been genetically modified. In 
> pushing for a broader advance notice requirement, 
> developing countries have argued that some grain imported 
> for food, feed and processing could be used for planting. 
> However, the United States has not seen evidence that 
> would be "a significant problem for biodiversity," Sandalow 
> said. The United States is negotiating as part of what is 
> known as the Miami Group, which also includes Argentina, 
> Australia, Canada, Chile and Uruguay. Developing countries 
> are known in the negotiations as the Like-Minded Countries. 
> On another contentious issue, the Miami Group strongly 
> opposes efforts by the European Union to address food 
> safety concerns in the Biosafety Protocol. An EU proposal 
> to require documentation so genetically modified crops can 
> be traced from field to port would require "billions of 
> dollars of new investment," Sandalow said. US SAYS 
> no evidence to suggest genetically modified crops pose any 
> food safety threat, he said. Also, the environmental 
> officials negotiating the protocol are poorly equipped to 
> deal with food safety issues because they are not experts 
> in that area, he said. Despite the significant differences 
> that remain, Sandalow was upbeat about the chance for 
> success in Montreal. Most countries agree on the need for 
> prior notification on shipments of GMOs intended for 
> release in the environment. There is also support for a 
> Miami Group proposal to create a Biosafety Clearing House 
> to post and share information about the latest GMO 
> approvals, he said. The United States will urge countries 
> to try to craft a protocol around areas where there is 
> agreement, rather than focus on differences, Sandalow said. 
> Executive News Svc. 

3 US Keen To Limit GMO Safety Rules To 
> Exclude Trade By Eric R. Drosin THE HAGUE (Dow Jones)--The 
> U.S. wants to keep trade out of international rules 
> governing genetically modified organisms. The U.S., the 
> biggest promoter of food biotechnology, is against 
> expanding the scope of the Biosafety Protocol, ahead of 
> negotiations next week in Montreal that will attempt to 
> finalize an agreement to regulate trade in living modified 
> products, or LMOs. Isi Siddiqui, responsible for 
> international affairs for the U.S. Department of 
> Agriculture, told a press conference Thursday that the 
> Biosafety Protocol must limit itself "to regulating LMOs to 
> protect the environment." 
> At a U.S.-sponsored conference on biotechnology, Siddiqui 
> said he condemned "forces which try to expand the scope of 
> the protocol to include trade." 
> He said the so-called Miami group - comprising six major 
> crop exporting countries including the U.S., Australia and 
> Canada - are prepared to back an agreement to regulate LMOs 
> as long as it doesn't "spill over into regulating 
> commodities." 
> Siddiqui said that the U.S. supports the labeling and 
> documenting of seeds, for example, but that rules on 
> shipments of food destined for human consumption are 
> already covered by the Codex Alimentarius, an international 
> agreement regulating food safety standards. His comments 
> underline the divide that separates the European Union and 
> the U.S. over the safety of genetically-modified organisms. 
> The E.U. has established an effective moratorium on the 
> licensing of GMOs on the grounds they may pose a health 
> risk to consumers. The U.S., which exports the majority of 
> genetically-modified crops, says GMOs pose no health risk 
> and remains at loggerheads with the E.U. over the Biosafety 
> Protocol. The protocol seeks to provide a risk assessment 
> structure for the cross-border movements of GMOs. It would 
> allow an importer, or nation, the right to demand that the 
> potential risk, and environmental impact, of a GMO be 
> assessed before allowing it into the country concerned. 
> Protocol Agreement An "Absolute Priority" E.U. Environment 
> Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said Monday that agreeing on 
> the protocol "was an absolute priority," though she 
> acknowledged that negotiations would be "extremely 
> difficult." 
> Wallstrom said the protocol aims to enable developing 
> countries, who often lack adequate legislation, to take 
> well-founded decisions on importing GMOs. "Importing 
> countries want to know the effect of GMOs on their 
> biodiversity," she said. Wallstrom said that the E.U. 
> proposes basing the protocol on the precautionary 
> principle - already the source of much disagreement with 
> the U.S. - and that it "wouldn't create any barriers to 
> free trade." 
> The precautionary principle, contained in the World Trade 
> Organization's Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement, states 
> that countries can block products based on health and 
> environmental concerns. However, scientific studies are 
> needed to justify any ban. Wallstrom insisted that the 
> protocol shouldn't be subordinate to WTO trade rules, in 
> opposition to the U.S. position. Siddiqui said that the 
> protocol must not interfere with the U.S.'s "trade 
> obligations under the WTO, or under bilateral agreements." 
> The previous attempt to finalize the protocol in 
> Cartagena, Columbia, in February 1999 ended without 
> agreement. Negotiations to establish the protocol, which 
> would be the first under the Convention On Biological 
> Diversity, began in 1995 in Jakarta. Siddiqui welcomed the 
> proposed creation of a European food safety agency, stating 
> that "it was a start." He added, though, that a regulatory 
> body on food safety issues "really needs regulatory powers." 
> E.U. Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David 
> Byrne has stressed that the new body won't have any 
> regulatory powers. Siddiqui said he's looking forward to a 
> resolution of the GMO issue this year, adding "it didn't 
> serve to disrupt trade." He said the U.S. had been losing 
> $200 million annually because of the E.U. moratorium on 
> GMOs - which precluded the exporting of U.S. 
> genetically-modified corn to the E.U. Siddiqui said the 
> moratorium on U.S. grain shipments to Spain and Portugal, 
> because of their GM status, would be "a priority" for the 
> U.S. to resolve. The U.S. has an agreement with Iberia to 
> import grain shipments at a lower duty than the E.U. norm - 
> a condition granted by the Commission because of Iberia's 
> previous trade agreements with the U.S. -By Eric R. Drosin; 
> 32-477-32-2171; 
Montreal/Brussels 26 January 2000

International GM Safety Rules in Danger
No EU Sell-Out say Greens/EFA

The resumed negotiations in Montreal to set international rules for
transboundary movement of genetically modified organisms are reaching breaking
point. Talks on the proposed Biosafety Protocol failed in Cartagena, Columbia,
in February 1999 when the US-led Miami Group of grain exporting nations vetoed
a deal even though the EU had given in to nearly all of their demands. Now it
looks like an action replay, with the same issues causing deadlock.
"This time the EU cannot give way" said Paul Lannoye (Belgium), President of
the Greens/EFA Group. "The US and its allies still want to make this Treaty
subordinate to the WTO Agreements. After Seattle, it is inconceivable that the
EU will be able to give in on this issue, which would be directly contrary to
the mandate given to the Commission by the Council of Ministers. This has
to be
a meaningful Protocol based on the precautionary principle for the protection
of biodiversity and the environment. It cannot be turned into a Biotrade
Green MEP Alexander de Roo (Netherlands), Vice-President of the Environment
Committee, said that EU's Environment Ministers and the Commissioner, Margot
Wallstrom, who will arrive in Montreal today must ensure that the EU supports
the demands of the less developed countries. "The EU already has a set of GM
safety rules - it is the developing countries which need this Protocol. They
are home to much of the world's biodiversity and we need to support their
demands that all living modified organisms (LMOs), whether for cultivation or
for use in food or animal feed, are within the scope of this treaty."
"There cannot be a trade-off between trade and the environment" said Green MEP
Hiltrud Breyer (Germany). "Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) such as
this Protocol must take precedence as being the primary instruments in their
regulatory field. Environmental risk assessments must be underpinned fully
by a
clear statement of the precautionary principle and signatory countries must be
required to give their active consent before imports of any LMOs can take
Press Service of the Greens/EFA Group 
in the European Parliament
Helmut Weixler (press officer)
phone: 0032-2-284.4683 
fax: 0032-2-284.4944 
mobile phone: 0032-75-67 13 40 
website: <>
> The Gazette (Montreal) January 21, 2000, Friday, FINAL 
> SECTION: Editorial / Op-ed; B2 LENGTH: 314 words HEADLINE: 
> No reason for confidence in biotech industry BODY: Gregory 
> Conko (Comment, Jan. 17) argues that Western environmental 
> activists are delaying access to biotechnology crops in 
> underdeveloped nations. It is almost laughable that he 
> cites Africa as one of the potential losers, given that for 
> the last three years the African countries have led a 
> worldwide fight to establish controls on genetic 
> engineering. Mr. Conko says we should be confident that the 
> biotechnology industry, which stands to make millions, is 
> only looking out for everyone's best interests. While he 
> patronizingly suggests opposition to bio-technology is the 
> result of propaganda disseminated by a few non-profit 
> groups, he claims it is the activists who believe 
> underdeveloped countries are ''lacking the capacity to tell 
> good from evil.'' Today, more than 170 countries support 
> the passage of a strong protocol that will allow them to 
> make their own decisions about importing genetically 
> altered food. Without such a biodiversity protocol, the 
> World Trade Organization can force them to accept these 
> goods under international trade agreements. The Convention 
> on Biodiversity meeting in Montreal, which Mr. Conko 
> mentions and which informally opened yesterday, may be the 
> last chance to pass a strong biodiversity protocol. Canada 
> is one of only five countries blocking such an agreement. 
> The United States also strongly opposes controls on the 
> biotechnology industry, but since it cannot vote at this 
> convention it must depend on Canada to uphold its views. 
> Perhaps if the biotechnology industry were willing to 
> accept liability for any adverse effects to humans and the 
> environment, so-called fear-mongering would have less 
> effect. As it stands, countries want the choice of 
> accepting or refusing genetically altered goods. If these 
> products are so sought after, why does the industry feel so 
> threatened by such requests? F.G. Hamer Verdun 
> POST January 21, 2000 SECTION: News LENGTH: 552 words 
> HEADLINE: Participants at loggerheads- NGOs say free trade 
> won't bridge 'gap' BODY: Ploenpote Atthakor As the United 
> Nations Conference on Trade and Development draws near, 
> government officials and NGOs remain at odds over free 
> trade and globalisation. In talks between the two sides 
> yesterday, officials said the concepts were beneficial and 
> inevitable but NGO representatives said free trade was a 
> misnomer which would widen the gap between the rich and 
> poor. Sriratana Ratthapana, of the Commerce Ministry, said 
> the forum would give Thailand greater bargaining power and 
> access to the international market. "We are shocked to hear 
> about attempts to pull out the agricultural sector from 
> international trade agreements," she said. "We must be 
> aware that up to 80% of our GDP is tied with international 
> trade, and farm goods play a very significant role. 
> "However, our exports face trade barriers, and 
> participation in the regulation-drafting process will give 
> us the opportunity to negotiate and expand our foreign 
> market."Supa Yaimuang, of the Alternative Agricultural 
> Network, said free trade would not necessarily lead to fair 
> distribution. "The benefits will hardly reach poor farmers, 
> but local business giants and multinationals."Pasuk 
> Pongpaichit, a Chulalongkorn University economist, said the 
> government should provide information on the pros and cons 
> of free trade in terms of the farm sector. "The government 
> should make clear who will benefit and who will lose and 
> whether it has plans to deal with the negative social 
> impact," she said. Genetically modified organisms was 
> raised as an issue of concern. Vitoon Lianchamroon of 
> BioThai said the government promoted local wisdom and public 
> participation to help the country deal with GM businesses. 
> Local activists agreed free trade did not benefit the 
> workers because investors must keep wages low to maximise 
> profits. They also wanted the introduction of safeguards, 
> such as insurance funds, to prevent foreign investors from 
> closing down without compensating their employees. Some 
> representatives challenged the stand being taken by 
> developed countries on labour standards. Khemporn 
> Wirulrapan, of the Children's Development Foundation, said 
> some countries had seized on child labour for protectionist 
> purposes. "If developed countries are sincere in helping 
> child workers, they must ensure the children benefit 
> directly from their measures," she said. Boycotts that did 
> not provide for alternative work would expose children to 
> more dangerous, poorly paid jobs. NGOs urged the government 
> to restructure public debts so that foreign lenders 
> shoulder part of the damage. Left unattended, massive debts 
> - Thailand shoulders an annual interest bill of 150 billion 
> baht - would aggravate social and political conflicts. 
> Piphob Thongchai, of the Campaign for Popular Democracy, 
> said the government should not look on NGOs as foes but as 
> partners that can use civil society pressure to increase 
> state bargaining power in international trade. Srisuwan 
> Kuankajorn, of an ecology group, said greater involvement 
> by civil society would help the government negotiate for a 
> debt moratorium. Copyright 2000 Copyright 2000 Bangkok 
> Post. Source: World Reporter (Trade Mark) - Asia 
> Intelligence Wire.Bangkok PostAsia Intelligence 
The Ottawa Citizen January 21, 2000, FINAL SECTION: News; 
> A1 / Front HEADLINE: Canada pushes GM foods: Sales pitch 
> aimed at Europe, Third World BYLINE: Pauline Tam DATELINE: 
> MONTREAL BODY: MONTREAL -- Canada will work aggressively to 
> convince Europe and developing countries at a pivotal 
> environmental conference next week that genetically 
> modified foods pose no major risks to the natural world. 
> The controversial position will be front and centre at 
> United Nations-sponsored talks aimed at a global green 
> treaty to ensure the safe trade, handling and 
> transportation of products altered by genetic engineering. 
> More than 130 countries are here to work out what's called 
> a Biosafety Protocol. After last month's disastrous 
> attempts in Seattle to launch a new round of world trade 
> talks which, among other things, would have addressed 
> genetically modified food, negotiators at this conference 
> are under pressure to show they can agree on the divisive 
> issue. The talks, which officially start Monday, pit the 
> world's leading grain exporters against Europe and 
> developing countries that are sensitive about genetic 
> engineering. The conflict highlights, on an international 
> level, uncertainties over how to deal with a technology 
> whose ecological consequences are not yet well understood. 
> The grain-exporting group, led by Canada, balks at 
> environmental controls that would limit foreign markets for 
> genetically modified crops. While the countries are willing 
> to accept special trade rules on products intended to go 
> directly into the environment -- such as planting seeds, 
> fish and trees altered by genetic engineering -- they insist 
> genetically modified farm crops destined for food, feed and 
> processing should be excluded from the treaty. The 
> distinction is necessary because unlike seeds or animals 
> whose genes can escape into the wild, harvested crops are 
> stored and shipped in such a way that they pose little risk 
> to the natural world, the countries argue. ''We suggest 
> that those (crops) that are processed into food do not 
> require the same oversight that you would want to give 
> those that are planted directly in the environment,'' says 
> Joyce Groote, the Ottawa- based spokeswoman for a coalition 
> of biotech companies backing the position of Canada and its 
> allies. The countries are also firm in their position that 
> trade in food as a commodity is best handled by the World 
> Trade Organization, not by a pact aimed at protecting the 
> environment. Those views are at odds with the position held 
> by Europe and other countries. The Europeans are pushing 
> for a broader treaty definition that would include key 
> export staples such as corn, soybean and canola. In effect, 
> they want an agreement that would allow countries to block 
> imports of genetically modified products without fear of 
> trade sanctions, at least until such products can be proved 
> safe. Such distinctions may seem arcane, but billions of 
> dollars are riding on the fine points contained in these 
> negotiations. The stakes are highest for the United States 
> and Canada, two main exporters of genetically modified 
> crops. In this country, as much as half of the $3-billion 
> canola crop is genetically engineered to resist insects or 
> weed-killing chemicals, while a quarter of corn and soy 
> grown is estimated to be genetically modified. European 
> fears over genetically modified food have already strained 
> the continent's trade relations with the U.S. The European 
> Union, which does not export any bioengineered crops, has 
> rejected some types of genetically modified corn and 
> canola, including several varieties from Canada. It has 
> also said no new genetically engineered crops will be 
> approved for the next few years. Officially, the U.S. does 
> not have a seat at the talks because it did not ratify the 
> UN's 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity on which the 
> current round of talks is based. Nonetheless, as part of 
> the so-called Miami Group of countries, which includes 
> Canada, Australia, Uruguay and Chile, the U.S. has helped 
> block previous attempts at forging a Biosafety Protocol. 
> Environmentalists opposed to the Miami Group position have 
> planned a week of high-profile events to draw attention to 
> the ecological dangers of genetically modified products. 
> They accuse Canada and its partners of making unreasonable 
> demands designed to weaken environmental protection. 
> ====================================================
> The Washington Times January 21, 2000, Friday, Final 
> Edition SECTION: PART B; BUSINESS; Pg. B8 LENGTH: 464 words 
> HEADLINE: U.S., EU to hold fast on biotech agendas BYLINE: 
> United States and the European Union appear to be heading 
> for stalemate at talks next week on a deal to protect 
> biological diversity and regulate trade in genetically 
> modified crops. Senior U.S. agriculture officials, 
> addressing a U.S. government-sponsored biotechnology 
> conference yesterday, said there had been a thaw in trans- 
> Atlantic relations on the fight over genetically modified 
> foods, although they acknowledged a compromise will be hard 
> to find at the weeklong talks in Montreal. Starting Monday, 
> representatives from 134 countries will try to thrash out a 
> Biosafety Protocol under the U.N. Convention on Biological 
> Diversity. The United States wants to keep the negotiations 
> focused on the environmental effect of new crop strains, 
> whereas the European Union, still reeling from "mad cow" 
> disease, dioxin and sewage sludge health alerts, insists 
> they encompass food safety. "We are against any attempt to 
> expand the agenda," Isi Siddiqui, adviser to U.S. 
> Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, told journalists at 
> the biotech conference. But European Environment 
> Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said this week the European 
> Union would insist on tight rules because "the 
> international community must demonstrate it takes the 
> concerns of citizens on health safety seriously." Mr. 
> Siddiqui said the United States would stick to its line, 
> although it remained hopeful of a compromise at the Montreal 
> talks, which follow a failed meeting in Cartagena, 
> Colombia, a year ago. The United States has much at stake. 
> It is the world's largest producer of genetically modified 
> crops and faces growing consumer skepticism at home, as 
> well as continued resistance in many foreign markets. But 
> Mr. Siddiqui said the atmosphere between the United States 
> and the European Union on the divisive issue had improved, 
> particularly since the visit last year by Commission 
> President Romano Prodi to Washington, where he held talks 
> with President Clinton. "Prodi has shown his desire to work 
> with the U.S. administration," he said, highlighting the 
> establishment of a top-level working group with officials 
> from both sides. Another positive development was the 
> announcement last week of a new EU-wide food-safety 
> authority. EU Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner 
> David Byrne, who will address the conference today, has 
> called for a new food body to be set up within three years. 
> Mr. Siddiqui described it as a "step in the right 
> direction," even though Mr. Byrne had decided against 
> giving the body regulatory teeth similar to those enjoyed 
> by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Asked if the U.S. 
> government was disappointed by its lack of powers, Mr. 
> Siddiqui said: "Well, there's a long way to go and you 
> have to start somewhere.
>9 01/24 2033 FOCUS-U.N. Biosafety Protocol talks begin in 
> Montreal (Updates throughout, adds quotes, details) By 
> Robert Melnbardis MONTREAL, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Fresh talks 
> aimed at getting an international deal on trade and safety 
> for genetically modified crops and food products began on 
> Monday as green groups staged loud but peaceful protests 
> outside the meeting hall. About 360 delegates from 134 
> countries began discussions in Montreal on a proposed 
> Biosafety Protocol which, if ratified, will produce an 
> agreement among the world's main trading blocs on rules 
> governing the international movement of genetically altered 
> organisms. The five-day talks are being held under the 
> auspices of the United Nations Convention on Biological 
> Diversity. Greenpeace and other environmental and 
> public-interest groups chanted loudly outside the 
> conference hall venue in downtown Montreal, erecting a 
> 23-foot (7-meter) genetically altered corn cob eating 
> butterflies. The about 40 protesters also unfurled a banner 
> reading: "Stop genetic pollution, Biosafety Now!" above the 
> main entrance. Greenpeace spokesman Mika Railo said 
> demonstrators would keep a daily vigil outside the talks. 
> But he added that unlike the protests that degenerated into 
> riots at World Trade Organisation talks in Seattle in 
> November, there would be no attempt to prevent delegates 
> from reaching the talks. "On the contrary, we want the 
> delegates to be there. We want a strong Biosafety 
> Protocol," Railo said. "We would rather run a limousine 
> service to make sure they get there." 
> Green groups fear that international trade considerations 
> could weaken the proposed protocol, which is aimed at 
> protecting the world's plants and animals from the 
> potentially adverse effects of genetically modified 
> organisms. One of the key uses of genetically enhanced 
> organisms is in crops such as grains, corn and soybeans 
> that have been altered to allow greater productivity, or to 
> be more resistant to pests and disease. Up to 700 people 
> are expected at the Montreal meeting, including observers 
> from environmental, public-interest and industry groups. 
> Some 40 environment ministers are also expected to attend. 
> The observers will be allowed to monitor open discussions 
> and ask questions, but conference officials said most of 
> the actual negotiations would be in secret. Juan Mayr 
> Maldonado, Colombia's environment minister, is heading the 
> talks, which follow a meeting in Colombia last year that 
> ended in a deadlock on a number of key issues. "Rest 
> assured that I am determined to achieving our goal and that 
> I do not intend to leave Montreal without having adopted 
> the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety," he told the delegates 
> in his opening address on Monday. Maldonado added that the 
> agreement will have to strike a balance between the 
> benefits of biotechnology and the protection of health and 
> biodiversity. He told reporters that the talks have already 
> progressed from the Colombia impasse through a series of 
> informal discussions. The Colombia talks stalled when the 
> U.S.-led "Miami Group," which includes Canada, Argentina, 
> Uruguay, Australia and Chile, refused to accept European 
> Union demands for the labeling of genetically modified bulk 
> commodities. U.S. delegation head, David Sandalow, 
> assistant secretary of state for oceans, environment and 
> science, said the United States was opposed to efforts by 
> developing countries to expand the scope of the proposed 
> protocol. Sandalow said the so-called "Like-Minded Group" 
> of developing countries want the Biosafety Protocol to 
> cover pharmaceuticals, goods in transit through countries, 
> and goods for "contained use" in research and similar 
> activities. Those categories have been exempted in previous 
> proposed drafts of the agreement, he said. "Our position is 
> that the exemptions should stay," Sandalow told Reuters. 
> "But we are working hard to try to understand the 
> environmental concerns behind the Like-Minded Group's 
> proposal and to figure whether there are ways we can help 
> address them through this agreement." 
> The EU has demanded precise labeling for genetically 
> modified crops and foods derived from them. It has been 
> slower than the United States at approving new genetically 
> modified products because of broad consumer concerns about 
> food safety. European countries also insist that the 
> protocol should allow it to keep products off its market if 
> it believes they present a health risk. The Miami Group 
> wants to include a savings clause to ensure the Biosafety 
> Protocol does not override other international treaties, 
> such as those under the World Trade Organisation (WTO). WTO 
> rules prevent countries from blocking food imports unless 
> there are compelling scientific reasons. 
1001/25 0836 Protesters Target Canada House In London 
> LONDON (Reuters) - A group of environmental protesters said 
> Monday they were targetting the London embassies of the 
> Miami group of countries which export genetically modified 
> products. "The protest focuses on the Miami Group of GMO 
> exporting countries (the US, Canada, Australia, Chile, 
> Argentina and Uruguay) who are blocking progress to strong 
> regulation for the international movement of all LMOs 
> (Living Modified Organizms)," the group, called the Genetic 
> Engineering Network, said in a statement. The group 
> demonstrated outside Canada House in London's Trafalgar 
> Square and planned to deliver calling cards and letters to 
> the other Miami group embassies later in the day, they said. 
> A spokesman for the Canadian High Commission said that some 
> 40 protesters had entered the building and had left when 
> asked to do so by security. A fresh round of talks begin 
> Monday in Montreal on an international Biosafety Protocol 
> over trade and safety issues with genetically modified 
> organizms used in crops and food products. The U.S.-led 
> "Miami Group" has refused to accept EU demands for the 
> labeling of genetically modified bulk commodities. 
> Protesters opposed to genetically modified organizms in 
> food also staged a march in Montreal S
 01/24 1923 U.S. opposes effort to expand biosafety pact 
> scope MONTREAL, Jan 24 (Reuters) - The United States 
> opposed efforts by developing countries to expand the scope 
> of a proposed agreement to regulate trade in genetically 
> modified organisms (GMOs), a U.S. official said on Monday. 
> David Sandalow, assistant secretary of state for oceans, 
> environment and science, said the so-called "Like-Minded 
> Group" of developing countries want the Biosafety Protocol 
> to cover pharmaceuticals, goods in transit through 
> countries, and goods for "contained use" in research and 
> similar activities. Those categories have been exempted in 
> previous proposed drafts of the agreement, Sandalow said. 
> Environmental aides from more than 130 countries are in 
> Montreal this week to try to forge a biosafety pact under 
> the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity. A similar 
> effort failed last year in Cartagena, Colombia. "Our 
> position is that the exemptions should stay," Sandalow told 
> Reuters. "But we are working hard to try to understand the 
> environmental concerns behind the Like-Minded Group's 
> proposal and to figure whether there are ways we can help 
> address them through this agreement." 
> Even before the Like-Minded Group's new proposal, several 
> issues threaten to prevent an agreement this week. As part 
> of the Miami Group of negotiating countries, the United 
> States has opposed European Union efforts to address food 
> safety concerns in the pact. The Miami Group also wants to 
> exempt genetically modified crops, such as corn and 
> soybeans, from a requirement on other GMOs for advance 
> notice of international shipments. Such a provision would 
> disrupt world food trade without providing any significant 
> benefit, the United States says. Negotiators arrived in the 
> Canadian city late last week for informal meetings before 
> the conference officially began on Monday. The Miami Group 
> includes the United States, Argentina, Australia, Canada, 
> Chile and Uruguay -- all of which are agricultural 
> exporters with an interest in keeping markets open to 
> genetically modified crops. Other negotiating blocs are the 
> Like-Minded Group, the EU and the Compromise Group, which 
> includes Japan. The United States has been encouraged by 
> the seriousness of the discussions so far, Sandalow said. 
> "I think if countries work hard we can reach an agreement 
> by the end of the week," Sandalow said. "It's too early to 
> know what the final result will be, but certainly we're 
> working hard to try to address the concerns of other 
> countries." 
> As the world's leading producers of genetically modified 
> crops, U.S. farmers have a huge stake in the outcome of the 
> biosafety talks. "We want to see a very limited scope for 
> this protocol," said Alex Jackson, a trade specialist for 
> the American Farm Bureau Federation agreement. The protocol 
> was originally proposed to cover genetically modified 
> organisms that would be directly introduced into the 
> environment, such as seeds, Jackson said. "Commodity and 
> food products do not fit that bill," he said. Officially, 
> the United States does not have a seat at the negotiations 
> because the Senate has not ratified the Convention on 
> Biological Diversity. It must rely on other Miami Group 
> members to present its views in the talks. 

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